Mom Ntombikayise Tyhalisi, with her new born babies Siphosethu and Amahle who were born conjoined at the head in the Eastern Cape.
Mom Ntombikayise Tyhalisi, with her new born babies Siphosethu and Amahle who were born conjoined at the head in the Eastern Cape.

Eastern Cape conjoined twins successfully separated at Red Cross

By Nomalanga Tshuma Time of article published May 12, 2021

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Cape Town - An A-Team of surgeons from the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital (RCWMCH) have successfully performed an operation to separate a set of conjoined twins from the Eastern Cape.

The multi-disciplinary team, involving a full set for each twin, performed a unique craniopagus surgery at Red Cross.

Red Cross’ head of paediatric neurosurgery Tony Figaji said craniopagus twinning is rare, especially in South Africa, and comes along once every 20 years.

He said: “It’s the rarest form of conjoined twinning. craniopagus twins occur approximately once in every 2.5 million live births worldwide. We were fortunate in this case that the connection did not involve any shared brain tissue and didn’t involve major blood vessels going from one twin to the other.”

Red Cross’ head of paediatric neurosurgery Tony Figaji said craniopagus twinning is rare, especially in South Africa, and comes along once every 20 years. Picture: Supplied

Red Cross head of plastic surgery Saleigh Adams said while the teams were prepared for a marathon surgery, the surgery only lasted one and a half hours.

The 31-year-old mother of the twins , Ntombikayise Tyhalisi, said she still cannot believe that she is now able to hold her two daughters Siphosethu and Amahle in her arms.

She said: “I am overjoyed! I wasn’t expecting to leave here holding my children one in each arm. When they were born I was very happy even though I had only been expecting one baby at the time.

“Although it was exciting to find out about baby Amahle who came after her sister, it was hard to come to terms with the fact that they were conjoined at the head.

“Now that the twins have been separated I am so happy, things will be so much easier for me now. I am grateful to the nurses who helped me throughout the process and the doctors who worked so hard to make my baby’s lives easier,” said Tyhalisi.

The 31-year-old mother of the twins , Ntombikayise Tyhalisi, said she still cannot believe that she is now able to hold her two daughters Siphosethu and Amahle in her arms. Picture: Supplied

Red Cross Hospital acting chief executive Anita Parbhoo said: “We’re proud of the entire multidisciplinary team involved in helping these twin patients, from the birthing team in the Eastern Cape and the referring clinicians, to our staff in the wards and theatre and then to those involved with the post-surgery care.”

Figaji said the successful surgery was a recognition of the hospital’s expertise.

“We already have an international profile, and we are the only dedicated paediatric neurosurgery centre in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. Over the years we have accumulated considerable expertise around a range of difficult brain and spine conditions in children. We already play a major role in the international paediatric neurosurgery community.”

Cape Argus

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