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Indian girl’s extra limbs removed

November 08, 2007

BANGALORE: Indian surgeons said on Wednesday they had successfully removed the extra limbs from a two-year-old girl born with four arms and four legs, in a gruelling operation that lasted more than a day.

The girl, named Lakshmi after the four-armed Hindu goddess of wealth, was born fused at the pelvis to a ‘parasitic twin’ that stopped developing in the womb.

She had absorbed the organs and body parts of the undeveloped foetus, a condition that occurs once in 50,000 conjoined twin births, requiring the rare, risky operation — the first of its kind performed in India.

After more than 24 hours of surgery, Lakshmi was breathing on Wednesday with the aid of a ventilator and under observation at the intensive care unit of Bangalore’s Sparsh Hospital.

“I’m very relieved and proud of my team,” said Sharan Patil, the orthopaedic surgeon who led the team that operated on her.

“But we still have 48 to 72 hours in the post-operative period we have to be extremely careful about.” “She is a very small, delicate child and has been through a major operation,” the doctor said. “Even very small things can cause a major impact so we are keeping a very close watch on her.”

A team of 36 doctors covering a range of specialities from paediatrics to plastic surgery removed Lakshmi’s extra limbs, saved one of her kidneys that was in both bodies and reconstructed her pelvis.

Doctors said the girl would have been unlikely to live into her teens with her condition.

“The surgery went according to the plan — every step of it was successful.

There were no setbacks whatsoever,” a tired but cheerful Patil told a press conference.

Patil, who thanked the “blessings of elders and the good wishes of the entire country” for the success of the surgery, said doctors would remain at the hospital until Lakshmi stabilises.

Doctors had said that Lakshmi had an 80 per cent chance of surviving the procedure.

“We have to monitor her very closely for the next two to three days before we are able to say anything more,” said hospital spokeswoman Mamatha Patil.

“Having said that, she is not in any kind of danger right now,” she added.

“The operation was a success, and she looks normal now, with two arms and two legs.”

Lakshmi was brought to Bangalore by her parents Shambhu, a manual labourer from eastern Bihar state, and Poonam, for the surgery. The hospital bore the cost of the operation, estimated at 2.4 million rupees (about $60,000).

“We wanted to give her a future,” Shambhu told a local television network, speaking in Hindi, as he and his wife waited to be told by doctors when they could see their daughter.

He said he was not tense about his daughter’s condition because “everyone’s prayers are with her.”

Doctors praised the parents for their “commitment to the wellbeing” of Lakshmi.

Last week, a privately-run hospital in Mumbai offered free surgery to separate four-year-old conjoined twins — Veena and Vani — after their parents said they did not have enough money to pay for the surgery.

The twins, kept under observation in a hospital in the southern city of Hyderabad since April last year, are fused at their heads, but the facility said it could not carry out the complex surgery.—AFP