Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Nigeria’s Siamese twins turn 10

Faithful and Favour Sobowale- Davies are the celebrated Siamese twins who were separated in the United States (US)in the year 2003.
They are now 10 and they are enjoying their separate lives. The Sobowale- Davies twins had been joined at the abdomen and sternum (chest), and their livers had been fused.
The girls’ entrance caused quite a stir not only in Lagos where they were born, but also across the country and well beyond it. Their journey to the world had elements of high suspense and the providential. Several scans by their mother, Mrs Kikelomo Sobowale –Davies, during pregnancy didn’t reveal that she was carrying Siamese twins. Speaking of her antenatal experience, she said, “It was like every other pregnancy. I didn’t know that they were twins. I just noticed that anytime I wanted to eat, I couldn’t really eat because my stomach would have been full. The doctor would say that I should just take fruits. Then in the process, he said we should do scan to see what the problem was. That was how and when we knew that they were twins. He then explained to me that was why I couldn’t eat.”

When it was time for the births, According to her, “The doctor observed that my blood pressure remained high. That was when he said I needed to do surgery, so he gave us referral letter to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). When we got there, they said the place was filled up, they said they had a lot of surgery that they wanted to do. So they referred us to Lagos Island Maternity Hospital. We got there late in the night.” After several days at the hospital, it was time for a caesarean. “It was during the operation that they got to know the babies were joined,” said Mrs. Sobowale –Davies.

Within two days of the birth of the Siamese twins, according to her account, they were visited by the then first lady of the state, Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, and some top government officials, including the then deputy governor. Thus began arrangements to get the babies separated.

Two months later, a life-changing operation was performed on the conjoined twins, and they were successfully separated by surgeons at the John Hopkins Children’s Center, Maryland, USA.

What happened?

In an hour-long surgery, paediatric surgeons Paul Colombani, M.D., then director of paediatric surgery at the Children’s Center, and Henry Lau, M.D., led a 17-member medical team in the separation, which took place on September 11, 2003. The team separated the twins’ chest bone and abdominal wall; and divided the fused liver into two separate organs, one for each twin. Surgeons closed each girl’s abdominal cavity using her own abdominal muscles and skin flaps, rather than skin grafts or prostheses, because the abdominal wall in babies is stretchy.

However, that bodily fusion is now history. Lively and full of dreams, the girls are in the same class in school, Primary Five (Basic Six), and their favourite subject is Mathematics.


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