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Separation of conjoined twins is now a popular option to grant both the siblings a better quality of life with the difficulty of the separation depending on which part of the body the twins are joined at.
Among the most difficult conjoined twins to separate are those joined at the head, but for twins Jaga and Baliya Kanhar from Odisha's Kandhamal district who are joined at the head, the process has begun. The twins have successfully survived a 22-hour surgery conducted at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on Tuesday which was the first step in their separation.
The 27-month-old boys shared the vein that returns blood to the heart from the brain, making separation difficult. However, in the first surgery, a new channel to carry venous blood using a bypass technique was created and doctors were able to separate a significant portion of the boys' brains.
"Surgery was uneventful and there was no major blood loss or intra-operative problems," said Dr. Deepak Gupta, the paediatric neurosurgeon who led the operation.
The twins continue to appear to be joined at the head as earlier, as at least 1-2 more operations will be required before the final separation.
"The kids will require one or two more operations within three months for final separation," a member of the medical team said.
Head of Neurosurgery at AIIMS, Professor SS Kale had revealed that surgical planning to separate the conjoined twins had begun two months ago and 40 doctors had been involved in the planning of the extremely rare and complex process of separating twins joined at the head.
Globally, only about 50 twins joined at the head have attempted to undergo surgical separation, but only a few survived.
The parents of the twins are poverty-stricken farmers from Kandhamal district of Odisha who could not afford to raise the kids in their conjoined condition and so reached out to the government to help separate Jaga and Baliya.
"We are thankful to our state government for arranging the transportation and other costs involved," Bhuiyan Kanhar, the twins' father, told doctors.