DOUBLE JOY: MEC for Health Gwen Ramokgopa with the twins who were separated at George Mukhari Academic Hospital. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/ANA

Pretoria - The success of a R2-million abdominal operation on conjoined twins at George Mukhari Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa 20 days ago was a call for a celebration.

Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa said: “I think this is one of the celebrations in that they didn’t have to stay (in the hospital) much longer after the operation.”

Ramokgopa was speaking to the media at the hospital on Sunday, where she went to congratulate a team of medical specialists who performed the operation.

She said it would have been difficult for the family to afford the operation if it had been performed in the private sector. “If this operation was done at a private hospital, it would have cost the family R2m, if not more,” she said.

Mahlangu said the successful operation showed that public sector medicine was advanced and had skilled personnel.

The 25-year-old mother from Limpopo and her spouse pleaded for their identities and those of the twins to be withheld.

Hospital head Freddy Kgongwane said the twins, born on July 12, were known by their pseudonyms, Tshepo and Tshepang.

He said the twins were both healthy bouncing babies following the operation and would be discharged on Monday.

Kgongwane expressed gratitude to a team of specialists led by Professor Muthuhadini Mawela, specialising in paediatric and child health.

He said Mawela was the key co-ordinator and energy driver of the team, which had achieved a surgical milestone at the hospital.

“It is a moment of pride. It is a moment of pleasure for us.

“It emphasises that as the public sector and as public servants we intend to give our best despite all challenges. We are committed to serving the community,” he said.

When they arrived at the hospital the twins were in a stable condition, not needing any respiratory support.

“They were transferred to George Mukhari Hospital for further investigations and management. They were admitted to the neo-natal intensive care unit at the hospital on July 14,” he said.

Kgongwane said preliminary investigations were conducted into what seemed to be an attachment at the level of the liver.

“It was not clear at that stage whether the hearts were separate or not. Further investigations were performed to delineate the anatomical attachment better,” he said.

It was discovered that the attachment was at the level of the liver only and surgery was planned for October 17 when the twins were 14 weeks old. The surgery was done on that day, and there were no complications during it.

Kgongwane said: “The abdominal wall could not be closed at this stage. The twins were admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit.

“They only required respiratory support for a few hours post-surgery. They were successfully extubated on to nasal prongs cannula oxygen. They were in room air 24 hours post-surgery.”

The abdominal wall closure was done on October 23 for both twins.

Kgongwane pointed out that both twins had some chest swelling and mild abdominal swelling post-closure and were put on analgesics.

“The feeds were recommenced and well tolerated. There were no signs of sepsis. The kidney function was normal.

“The liver enzymes were on a downward trend,” he said.

A team from the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital came to assist during the operation process.

Margarette Molefe, theatre nursing manager, said there was a lot of anxiety and excitement among those involved in the operation process.

“We were very excited and it was a team effort. Everybody put in the effort and you can see the outcome is good,” Molefe said.

Pretoria News