extra limbs on his lower abdomen at a government
hospital in Sukkur was on Monday brought to the
National Institute of Child Health, where senior doctors described him a rare and complicated case.
"Contrary to popular belief the baby does not have six legs," said NICH director Prof Jamal Raza, explaining that the infant was a parasitic twin.
"One of the twins is living, while the other has become
parasitic. The infant is all right and has been admitted to the intensive care unit of the NICH, but the removal of the parasitic limbs could be a serious and time-consuming medical exercise including both inner and cosmetic surgeries," Prof Raza said, adding that a team of five surgeons had been formed specifically to look into this case.The father of the infant, Imran Ali Sheikh, 31, is an X-ray technician with a private diagnostic practice in Sukkur and lives in Sheikh Mohalla, near Ayub Gate.
Mr Sheikh said he had married Afshan, 27, about five years back and this was their first child.
"I want the doctors to save my son's life," he said. "I am a poor man and have already spent my savings on the illness of my wife who delivered the child after a caesarean section on April 12 at the Civil Hospital Sukkur. I am desperately looking to the government for the treatment of my child and my other financial needs." He added the cost of running the ambulance to Karachi and back had been borne by the local
chapter of the Pakistan Baitul Maal.
He said his wife had stayed back in Sukkur while he had moved to Karachi with the infant and a couple of female relatives were also staying at a hotel in Karachi. Replying to a question, Mr Sheikh said the doctors at Sukkur had done ultrasound examinations during his wife's prenatal check-ups, but they had never said anything about twins or other abnormalities.
According to experts, the term "conjoined twins" is used to refer to identical twins that are attached to each other in the womb. Estimated to take place in one in every 50,000 to 100,000 births, a higher prevalence of conjoined twins is reported in southern Asia and Africa A doctor at the NICH said that around 75 per cent of conjoined twins died because
of medical complications resulting from the condition. Most of the time, surgery was used to separate the twins if it had been determined, there was no risk of killing them.
Dr Nasir Salim, a paediatric surgeon at the NICH and
member of the special team formed for the infant, said that in the case of parasitic twins a much smaller, partially formed twin was attached to the strong, developed twin."What we have here is a twin with a normal upper body who has control over his own legs but has additional lower limbs attached to his lower abdomen. These could be removed through surgery," he said.
He said the team was conducting a critical examination of the extra limbs, their level of penetration into the infant and how important they were to his survival.
"Any decision for the disassociation of the extra limbs can be taken only after knowing the functions and status of the internal organs and pelvis of the child," Dr Salim said, adding that the first report of the committee would most likely be formed by Wednesday.