Aminat Isah, Abuja
The Leadership of National Hospital Abuja has boosted the potentials of the Nigerian health sector by successfully operating the first Nigeria twins conjoined in the heart.
The feat which is the first of its kind in the hospital started when the two lovely children who were born in Keffi, conjoined face-to-face at the chest and abdomen, were referred to the National Hospital Abuja 16 months ago.
ROYAL NEWS reports that twins are conjoined in the womb, when an embryo fails to divide completely during the formation, a condition that can present complex and delicate challenges to teams attempting separation especially when critical internal organs like the liver, heart and intestines are shared or connected.
Speaking at a press conference on the successful separation in National Hospital Abuja on Tuesday, the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the operation was the first successful operation of it kind at the hospital and it marks a bold venture into the realm of advanced surgery.
According to the Minister, the children were first nurtured to stable health by a team of neonatologists, as medical imaging experts conducted tests and studies to determine what and how internal organs were shared or connected between them.
While a remarkable operation followed with very detailed planning and preparation, as a mixed team of paediatric, plastic and cardiothoracic surgeons, led by Prof. Ameh, performed the operation to separate the twins.
Ehanire noted that the successful outcome of the surgery is due to the availability of top experts at National Hospital Abuja, their dedication to the profession, the careful planning, the excellent teamwork and administrative support they received.
He also said the outcome of the surgery also shows that as the Administration of President Buhari aims for grassroots universal health coverage, support for tertiary care to improve performance, is by no means lost.
He commend the CMD and management of National Hospital Abuja for their leadership and extraordinary ability for seamless teamwork that made the intricate level of advanced surgery possible, urge all hospitals in Nigeria to also aim higher and emulate the team, and promised that the government shall monitor progress through National Hospital and assist where needed to see them achieve their potential.
Speaking on how the hospital achieved the success, the Chief Medical Director, National Hospital Abuja, Dr Jaff Momoh explained that the biggest lesson from the success achieved, is the spirit of team work and the believe that it can be done.
” The spirit of team work and the believe that we can do it are the two things that helped us in the 16months, from day one the question I asked was can we do this and my team said yes and I say okay put together a team and let me know and they put together a team and they started submitting the cost and we started making things available for them to do it.
“They were united in one purpose and they supported what the management wanted. At a point I demanded that the surgery should be postponed to one month, because they came to brief me and I said postpone it by one month because some people were suppose to go on leave after the surgery, I said no when you return from your leave , we would try because I do not want you away while these children are trying to recover .
” For that purpose they followed my instruction and I supported them whole heartedly and once they returned from leave they settle down and knew I would not accept any other postponement.
” Everything that was required, they worked as a team and they even set up a WhatsApp group where we communicated and if I notice anything I quickly use my executive power to intervain.
“Like I said, the parents believed in us because of the way we took care of them in the first few weeks without even talking about separation we took are of the feeding, the drugs, everything of these children when they couldn’t afford it, and we continually reassured them , so the team work is something to be emulated and for those who believe the health sector can never be united, I believe that it can, when we are busy and have a common purpose we are pursuing we work as a team,” Said Dr Jaff
The chief consultant paediatric surgeon, Dr Emmanuel Ameh explained that once there is trait of twins in the family, and once the family has the genetic history of or characteristics of having twins, anything can happen to the twins.
“There is no way of preventing it. Twins happen in different ways, but once you have the kind of twins that as they are developing they have to separate, anything can make them not to separate and there is really no way of making it so we have a few things that nature thrust upon us that we cannot prevent.
“So once twins can happen then its possible that they can be conjoin, Said Ameh
Dr Ameh who was the lead surgeon during the operation noted that it took the team of experts four different surgeries for the twins to be successfully separated, the the separation surgery which was the last being the most tedious of all.
” They had a total of four surgical procedures . the first one was when they came and their intestine was popping out, we needed to find a way to close that place, second one was putting in those balloons under the skin to make sure that we have enough skin to close the space that we are going to do, third one was when one or two of the balloons got deflated and we needed to take them back to the theatre to take them out.
” The forth surgery was the main surgery to separate them, the most tasking is obviously the one to separate them because we are trying to separate what nature has joined together,”
The parents of the twins who have been named Goodness and Mercy, Mr and Mrs Eden Martins expressed gratitude to the federal republic of Nigeria, minister of health, and minister of women affairs, Helen Talin who gave the mother of the twins automatic employment at the ministry of women affairs, and national hospital for their support through out the 16months, saying that what kept her moving was her hope in God for the best.
Goodness and Mercy came to Abuja joined as one, but are now ready to return home as two individuals.
Separated conjoined twins still require rehabilitation and continuing care.
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