Conjoined twins have been successfully separated after a 12 hour operation in India.
Aradhana and Stuti Yadav, 11-month-old girls with fused livers and two hearts joined by a membrane, had been abandoned in a hospital hours after birth by their parents.
A specialist team of 23 doctors and 11 nurses from India and Australia took part in the operation, which was paid for by public donations after the girls’ plight was featured on national TV.
The outpouring of generosity, with thousands of small donations by members of the public, is unusual in India where girls are often less valued in rural communities and disabled babies are often abandoned.
Public generosity was matched by a £22,000 fund from the Madhya Pradesh state government.
The girls have been cared for by hospital staff since their birth, with three nurses taking shifts to act as surrogate mothers.
Scroll down for a gallery of pictures of the twins
Surgeons at the under-equipped Paddar Hospital spent months appealing for international help and preparing for an operation.
Born into a poor family in the small town of Betul, the girls’ father is said to be a farmer with a small holding of land. Hospital staff tracked the family down and agreed to look after the children if the parents developed a relationship with the girls.
“They are very poor and even the delivery had been done under a government scheme for healthy deliveries. After the babies were born it was clear they would not have been able to provide medical attention needed for them. So, the hospital decided to look after them in the near future till it became clear that surgery would be possible,” said a spokesman.
Hospital authorities said they were pleased the parents wanted to take their girls home after surgery, describing it as the best possible outcome.
“We are happy that they will finally get to be a family and both the girls will get a proper home,” said Vikas Sonwani, assistant administrator of Paddar Hospital.
Parents Hari Ram Yadav and Maya Yadav, are both believed to be in the late twenties and already have a six-year-old son. They were not available for comment.
The day-long operation to separate Aradhana and Stuti began yesterday morning at 8am.
“They had separate hearts and livers but the problem was both the hearts were in single sac,” said Mr Sonwani.
“All the organs in our body are covered with a dedicated sac. In case of the heart, its called pericardium. But in these babies, there was only one common pericardium. Similarly they had separate but fused livers,” he added.
In a four-phase operation, the twins were first given anaesthesia. After nearly two hours, a team of surgeons separated their hearts and transplanted the organs into each girl’s chest cavity.
During the third phase, surgeons separated their livers. In the last phase, their other body parts were separated and sealed as required under such surgeries, according to the hospital.
Both the twins have been kept on ventilators and they will be under close medical observation for about 48 hours.
Doctors are optimistic both girls will make a full recovery.