Monday 16 December 2013

Of milestones and new lives - Apollo Hospitals!

Babies are called 'Bundles of Joy' for a reason. The kind of happiness that they give, the purity of the love and affection they shower us with, the innocence of their beautiful smiles and the happiness they usher us with their cacophony - these are just some aspects that make life so wonderful.

While a baby starts giving joy the moment its existence is known, the mother has to be equally careful and responsible through the pregnancy. This is where, the doctors step in. Being one of the most important milestones of a woman's life, pregnancy needs to be taken care of with absolute care and supervision. And then comes the labor and we say hello to healthy babies! 

But what happens when the mother gives birth to medical wonders? Sadly, most times, the babies require special care, attention and medical procedures to lead a happy and healthy life.  *I was under observation for 72 hours, being a pre-mature born baby weighing 1.5kg at birth. And even today, I spot the worry in my daddy's eyes when he narrates the story of how tough it was for him to stay out and watch me battle for breath.*

The kind of care babies need, is any day more sophisticated than what is required by adults. At times such as these, Apollo Hospitals is what first comes to mind. Always the pioneers of game changing developments, innovations which are at par with the best facilities of the West, Apollo Hospitals has won the trust and hearts of many a patients and their families.

This is where the interesting and a little chills-down-the-spine story comes into picture.

We are all familiar with the concept of conjoined twins, aren't we? Conjoined twins are rarely encountered. Although seen in one in 200,000 deliveries more than 60% are stillborn. Of the remaining, 35% die within a few days or months of birth due to various causes.Conjoined twins can be joined at the chest, abdomen, back, buttock and head. Fusion at the buttocks (Pygopagus) is very rare and accounts for less than 17% of all conjoined twins.

Our story starts in a tiny village called 'Kasumulu', in Africa. This is the story of two little angels who are conjoined twins, and are 'pygopagus twins'. The mother went for delivery to the dispensary in her village from where she was shifted to the District Hospital because she had undergone a previous cesarean section.  At the district hospital, a  ‘C ‘section was done but to the doctors' surprise there was enormous difficulty in delivering the babies out of the uterus as they were joined at the back. The mother was told that separation of the babies was fraught with risk and she was sent to the Mohimbili Hospital in the capital Dar es Salaam by ambulance. It took three days to make this journey with the newborns. At Mohimbili, the doctors contacted the health officials for advise regarding further action.

Apollo Hospitals Chennai is closely associated with the Tanzanian government by the Save a Child's Heart Initiative (SACHI). The babies were therefore shifted to Apollo Children’s Hospital in Chennai at four and a half months of age. After extensive work up it was found that the babies were joined at the tail end of the spines and shared a single anus and rectum. They were also found to have a single phallus and urinary passage.

Apollo Hospitals has now taken up the mammoth task of performing surgery on these twins who are now of age 9 months and weigh 16 kg. The surgery will take 14 - 16 hours. It is being planned on the 16th of December. A team of 20 doctors from the specialties of neurosurgery, plastic surgery, paediatric surgeryand pediatric urology will attempt the separation. The services of Dr.Edward Kiely – Paediatric Surgeon and Dr.Richard Howard – Anaesthesiologist, both from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, have been sought to guide and help in the safe separation. During the last five months tissue expanders have been placed in the back, buttocks and thighs so that skin flaps can be rotated to cover the large defects, which will be left after separation.

What more?  The nurses looking after the babies have been showering love and affection on the babies who have been nicknamed ‘Ammukutty’ and ‘Chellakutty’.

The babies can say ‘Thatha’ and ‘Athai’ and the mother has picked up a smattering of Tamil as well :)

The team of doctors are very confident of handling this surgery well and giving a new life to the adorable twins and their mother, all over again :)

Here is wishing them all the success in the world. After having heard dozens of success stories echoing from the inside of the walls of the Apollos, I don't think there is any need for panic. But I might as well say, all our prayers and good wishes, warmth and assurance rests with the team. 

Go Team Apollo! 

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