A baby from India whose stomach had become so enlarged that she couldn't eat or drink was revealed to have had a parasitic twin growing inside of her, leeching off of her blood supply.
The 15-month-old toddler, Nisha, was determined by doctors to have a rare condition called "fetus-in-fetu," in which a fetus had been growing inside of the baby's stomach. Initially, Raju and Sumathi, Nisha's parents, thought that the child simply had a large stomach, according to Daily Mail, and ignored it until she began crying and having issues eating and breathing.
Doctors also thought that the baby girl had a cyst or tumor before realizing Nisha's rare condition.
"I too believed that it was a cyst or tumour till the ultrasound and scan showed that there were bony areas, calcified region and a teratoma-like structure [a tumour containing tissues and organs]. That was when I suspected that it was a fetus-in-fetu and quickly looked up some literature," said Dr. D. Vijayagiri, who performed surgery to remove the growth of flesh, bone, and hair from Nisha's stomach, according to the Times Of India.
"However, it was only when I removed the structure, could I confirm that it was a fetus. Though it has some bones, a pathology study is what can reveal the organs formed so far," said Vijayagiri.
The surgery was made more complicated by the fact that Nisha's left kidney had attached to the growth. Other organs and blood vessels had grown around the structure, making the operation difficult.
"So we had to remove and detach the blood vessels and move the organs away from the fetus without injuring them. Once the fetus was removed, we manually placed all the organs in the places where they should have originally been," Vijayagiri said.
Nisha reportedly weighed 18 pounds before the fetus was removed. Her parents had to ignore the infant's swollen stomach because of their very small salaries as daily wage laborers.
"She always had a slightly larger than normal stomach but we ignored it until she stared crying endlessly and began having issues breathing and having food," said Sumathi, 28. "We had never gone for scans before or during her birth."
"I am thankful to doctors for removing the fetus and giving her a new life," she said.