The conjoined twins Lamisa (R) and Labiba sit beside their mother Monufa on the eve of their surgery at a hospital in Dhaka on December 12, 2021. (Photo by Munir uz Zaman / AFP) (Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Bangladeshi surgeons working to separate conjoined toddlers said on Monday (13) they had been forced to halt and postpone the mammoth procedure after complications.
The two-year-old girls, Labiba and Lamisa, were born joined at the back and share a spine, genitalia and part of their digestive tract.
A team of 35 doctors at Dhaka Medical College Hospital began the operation on Monday but were forced to stop after four hours when they found the skin too thick to proceed, chief paediatric surgeon Ashraful Haque said.
Silicon balls have been inserted that will be gradually filled with saline water, stretching the skin to make the separation of the twins easier, Haque added.
In the meantime the sisters will be kept under observation for the next few weeks.
Doctors had previously partially separated their rectums nine days after birth, but follow-up surgery was also postponed last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“My babies are now in the intensive care unit. They are talking to us. So we’re a bit relieved for now,” Lal Mia, father of the twins, told AFP.
The toddlers cannot sit or properly lie down together.
Doctors in the same hospital have safely separated two other sets of conjoined twins in 2017 and 2018 and expressed confidence they could do the same for Labiba and Lamisa.
Conjoined twins develop when an embryo only partially separates, leaving babies connected after birth.
Many conjoined twins are stillborn or die shortly after birth, but advances in surgery and technology have improved survival rates.