Almost a month after their birth, a rare set of conjoined twins born to a couple from a Sion chawl was discharged from Sion Hospital on Tuesday, after a decision to conduct a separation surgery was shelved.
For 26-year-old mother Shahin Khan and the babies, the battle is uphill now, as the brothers, who share a common heart, thorax, abdomen, stomach and pelvic region, are under no longer under direct medical observation.
What has intrigued doctors is their breathing function. Only one baby has lungs, and the doctors suspect the other is breathing through a portion of common trachea between the two.
“They have a complex anatomy which even we don’t understand. If a separation surgery was conducted, we could have understood their internal organs clearly. Their survival is now God’s wish,” said Dr Paras Kothari, head of paediatric unit at Sion Hospital.
The twins were born on July 27, weighing 3.6 kg. The mother had discovered they were conjoined in her 32nd week of pregnancy, when she underwent the first sonography test since conceiving them.
Last week, Shahin denied permission to separate the babies, fearing for their lives. According to the hospital’s dean, Dr Suleman Merchant, an ethical committee had scrutinised the case and asked for the parents’ permission for the surgery. Shahin refused, realising that with one heart and one lung, only one baby could be saved.
The initial CT and MRI scans have shown that the babies have separate faces, brain and vertebra, and three hands and two legs in common.
While one baby’s brain is responsible for one hand and one leg’s functioning, the second baby controls the other two hands and one leg.
The babies’ father, Irshad Khan (28) is a cobbler at Dadar station and the couple have two daughters, aged two and four years.
“The mother fought for discharge. She has claimed she will manage both babies on her own,” Kothari added. According to the hospital data, the twins were discharged on August 20. Their breathing and vital body functions were normal in the final test done at the hospital.
The incidence of such twins is one in five lakhs. According to experts, about 5-25 per cent conjoined twins are able to survive, though the survival rate of babies with a fused heart is much lower.