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Conjoined boys face wait for surgical separation

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NTANDO MAKHUBU

IT MIGHT be a year before conjoined twins Recall and Ricardo are separated following setbacks in the Ricardo’s health, which has seen the babies going into theatre at least four times since they were born.

The boys turn four months this week, and initial assessments at Steve Biko Academic Hospital where they were admitted the day after they were born had projected surgery for when they turned six months old or soon after.

The boys were born joined at the pelvis, sharing a large bowel, one genital organ, urethra and hip bones, and as a result can only lie in one position, with their heads positioned at opposite ends of each other.

They were born naturally at an Mpumalanga hospital to 18-year-old mother Bongi Sibuyi who had not known she was carrying conjoined twins.

The babies were taken to Steve Biko a day later where they underwent tests, scans and X-Rays, and after close monitoring, medical experts determined that a separation was possible.

Yesterday a doctor in the team that monitors and treats the babies said they were doing well despite being rushed to theatre and being detained in the intensive care unit of the paediatric ward last month.

She said: “Twin B (Ricardo) developed bowel problems and caught an infection, so we rushed him into theatre and after that on to a ventilator in the ICU for recovery.”

Ricardo is recovering well and he and his brother can already give a half smile. A team of occupational health workers is working with them to help develop their fine motor skills and they could recognise people, said the doctor.

The surgery has been put off until they gain sufficient weight. Surgery will follow a process to stretch their skin until its surface is big enough to cover the babies after the operation.

The team for the major procedure to separate them is to include paediatric surgeons, urologists, plastic surgeons and orthopaedic surgeons.

A team of paediatric surgeons is keeping an eye on them.


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