Doctors saved a baby girl's life when they removed the head of her parasitic twin, which was growing from her stomach.
The appendage, which had no eyes or ears because of its halted development, was taking nutrients from the girl's blood supply that she needed to grow, Daily Mail reports. The girl also reportedly had a third hand.
The 21-year-old mother, who has not been named, had gone to Ram Snehi Hospital in Jahazpur, India due to pain during her pregnancy. Doctors told her that she was pregnant with twins, but they reportedly did not know that they were parasitic.
Parasitic twins, which are formed when one embryo develops dominantly while the other remains undeveloped, are reported to be as rare as one in 1 million live births.
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"The parents told us the mother had undergone sonography and other tests but were not told about carrying an underdeveloped twin," said Dr. Pravin Marthur, who works in the hospital's pediatric unit. "They were shattered when they saw the baby. We had to convince them to give us a nod for the surgery to save their daughter's life."
"After immediate consultation with a team of radiologists and support from assistant professors, we successfully removed the head from the viable child," Marthur said.
The doctors managed to save the baby girl's life, and the hospital reportedly did not charge the family for any of the costs of the surgery. The girl is reported to be breastfeeding and recovering well.
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In a similar case, also in India, another baby girl was born with her parasitic twin's head attached to her stomach in 2014, New York Daily News reports.
The mother, 22-year-old Amlekha Bairva, gave birth to the girl and her twin in a small government-run hospital in her village, but took her to JK Lone Hospital in Jaipur after seeing her child's condition.
"This is a case of Hetropagus twinning [which is] commonly known as Parasitic twinning. In such cases surgery is successful," said Dr. Chetan Sharma, a pediatric surgeon at the hospital.
"She's a healthy child with a normal heartbeat. She doesn't have any other internal or external complexities and that increases her chances of survival," said Sharma. "We are confident that the surgery would be successful and the girl will lead a normal life with no future complexities in the future."
The girl's father, Ramji Lal Bairva, 29, said that the couple didn't have money to get an ultrasound before the birth, so they were not aware of the girl's condition. The couple also has a 5-year-old son.
"I didn't take my wife to the doctor during her pregnancy as I did not have money for any treatment," said the dad. "Also my first child was born normal so I never thought there could be any complications with my second child. When I saw my daughter, I could not believe my eyes, I couldn't pick her up."
"I have faith in God," Ramji Lal said. "I am hoping the operation is successful and she leads a healthy life like any other child."