Conjoined Twins from Tanzania to be Separated in Chennai in Rare, Record-Setting Surgery

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By Gopi Chandra Kharel | December 15, 2013 11:07 PM EST

Doctors in Chennai are at the brink of a major surgical milestone as they prepare to separate nine-month-old conjoined twin toddlers from Tanzania, in a rare, record-setting surgery.

A 20-member team, of strong surgeons and specialists, is lined up to undergo the 18-hour procedure on twin boys Ericana and Eludi, born to parents from Dogoma region of Tanzania; the Southeast African nation.

Ericana and Eludi are joined at the posterior and share an anus, urinary passage and a penis, according to reports.

In the daunting operation set to take place on Monday 16 December in a hospital in Chennai, doctors will not only separate the conjoined parts of their bodies but their fused genitals will also be sliced into two halves and later reconstructed through plastic surgery.

The team of doctors set to operate the little toddlers include neurosurgeons, paediatric surgeons, anaesthesists and plastic surgeons. Doctors have told NDTV that there is a 75 percent chance of the boys surviving, if everything goes according to plan.

This will be India's first attempt to separate twins joined at the tail end of their spines; scientifically described as pygopagus. Only 17 percent of the total world population of conjoined twin accounts for this category.

Dr. Venkat Sripathi, a senior consultant urologist at Apollo Hospitals, where the surgery is going to take place told a Tanzanian newspaper that process would involve separating the spine, anus, rectum, penis and urethra.

"They have a single anus, urinary passage and rectum. Their penises were fused. It was unlike anything we have seen before" he told the Citizen newspaper.

When doctors at the hospital analysed similar cases, they were confronted by the rarity of the condition, the newspaper states. Out of the 30 pygopagus cases reported worldwide, 26 were female and only four were male. Ericana and Eludi are the fifth and will look into each other's eyes for the first time, if all goes well.

The toddlers have been admitted for over five months at the Apollo Hospitals. The entire procedure could cost between ₹20 to ₹40 lakhs, a major part of which will be sponsored by the Tanzanian government.

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