Michelle Jones and Sapa
THE two infants look like they’re hugging each other. They are conjoined twins, sharing an umbilical cord, upper abdomen and chest.
Born at the Dr Malizo Mpehle district hospital in Tsolo, near Mthatha, on Wednesday, they arrived at Cape Town International Airport yesterday.
The twin girls were taken to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Their names have not yet been released.
The war memorial hospital, the only children’s hospital in sub-Saharan Africa, has treated two sets of conjoined twins in the last three years.
In 1964, its staff performed SA’s first separation of conjoined twins, and 48 pairs have been successfully separated in the hospital since.
Western Cape Health Department spokeswoman Faiza Steyn said it was not clear when doctors would attempt surgery on the twins.
She said their case was not considered an emergency.
“These twins need to be fully examined and may not be operated on or separated for several months. They may even be sent home in the interim to grow and develop more, if that is deemed the safest course of action.
“These decisions cannot be made until they have undergone a full investigation to identify the areas of conjunction and the anatomy and normal functioning of heart, lungs, intestine, liver and urinary tracts.”
Eastern Cape Health Department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the girls were moved after being born to a bigger hospital in Mthatha to be examined by doctors.
He said doctors at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital had assessed them to check whether they shared vital organs.
“The girls have a combined weight of four kilograms. They share an umbilical cord. They have a joined upper abdomen and chest.”
This is the fifth set of conjoined twins born in the area in two years, Kupelo said.
SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service spokeswoman Vanessa Horn said the twins had been flown to Cape Town in the Metro/AMS fixed-wing aircraft.
She said they were then transported by the Metro ambulance service to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.