“They have started smiling and playing. That is enough to bring smile on our face,” says Shahin Khan about her conjoined twins who were born with one torso and two heads (in medical terms the condition is called – dicephalic paraphagus). Shahin delivered the twins on July 27 at Sion hospital.
Wrapped carefully in a piece of cloth with heads covered, Shahin on Tuesday had brought her sons for a regular check up at the hospital. Two months ago, she and her husband, Irshad, took the bold decision to raise the twins without separating them via an operation.
“Doctors told us that only one child can be saved, as they share a heart and lung. I didn’t want to lose any one of them. Both are dear to me and I will raise them the way they are,” said Shahin as doctors checked the babies.
The couple have named their sons Mohammed and Gufran. “They have started hitting each other and have their own language of communicating. It is fun to watch them grow together,” said Shahin.
They have two daughters, aged 2 and 4, and Shahin says though they want to hold their brothers, she hasn’t allowed them yet. “They are too delicate. I have not allowed them to hold their brothers yet. But they are very fond of the boys,” said Shahin.
She says they are not worried of what people talk about her sons. “I want them to grow up as healthy and good human beings,” said Shahin. She tells that the boys had their first two round of vaccination.
Before leaving the hospital, Shahin quickly enquires with the doctor if she can continue feeding the twins as she has cough and cold and happy that the doctor gave her the permission.
Mohammed and Gurfan are a rare set of conjoined twins who are joined sideways, with a fused thorax (the part of the body between the neck and abdomen), common heart, abdomen, stomach and pelvis. “Their faces and vertebrae are separate, and between them, they have three hands and two legs,” said Dr Paras Kothari, head of paediatric surgery, Sion hospital.
For precaution, the hospital has sent an oxygen cylinder for emergency purpose. The babies weighed 3.6 kg at the time of birth.
“They are taking the feed normally and are also gaining weight. Growth, too, is normal. We are happy that they have survived the first three crucial months and the heart is able to sustain both of them,” Kothari said.
Apart from taking care of the medicines, Sion hospital doctors are trying their best help the couple in arranging food supplements. “The father is a shoe shiner by profession and the only earning member. They have two other kids. We are trying to get in touch with NGOs and arrange funds so that they can feed the children,” said Kothari.
The conjoined twins made headlines on their birth as doctors debated ethical and medical issues on survival of the babies. While Sion hospital doctors brain stormed with other paediatric surgeons, battery of tests were simultaneously carried to know if they can be separated by surgery. Conjoined twins is a rare sporadic event with prevalence of 1 in 2,00,000 to 5,00,000 live births. 60 per cent of such twins die shortly after birth.
Read more about how the US twins underwent a successful separation surgery