The entire country is likely to witness and pray for the success of a risky neurosurgery to separate conjoined twins Vani and Veena, once Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao takes a final call this month. The parents of the teenage twins have agreed to go ahead with the surgery, which has been classified as one of the riskiest operations with a survival chance of 75%.
The Telangana government may prefer a neurosurgery in consultation with AIIMS, Delhi, from where a team of doctors have visited and studied the sisters’ case. One of the two sisters or even both sisters face on-table danger to their lives, the AIIMS doctors have said.
“The surgery might cost us around Rs 15 crore, if it is conducted in the UK, but money is not a constraint. What we are looking at is the safety of the children. As the parents have given their nod to the operation, we have presented the matter to the CM for a final call,” Telangana Health Minister C. Lakshma Reddy told The Sunday Guardian. “We leave the fate of our children to the safe hands of the government and God,” said Murali and Naga Lakshmi, father and mother of the twins, in a letter addressed to Daruru Ranganath, superintendent and head, paediatric surgery of the state-run Niloufer Maternity and Pediatric Hospital in Hyderabad.
Vani and Veena, who have separate bodies and brains but are connected at the back of skull through some vital blood vessels, have been staying at Niloufer hospital since 2008, waiting for a surgery. Since then, several attempts have been made to conduct a separation surgery on the twins, medically called craniopagus, but none of the experts have guaranteed their safety.
The parents’ letter to the Niloufer hospital came in response to an early letter from the superintendent asking them to take their children home as the twin girls have reached an age where it is not possible to keep them at a children’s hospital.
But the parents expressed their inability to do so as they are daily wage workers from Ghanpur in Warangal district, and have no money and resources to take care of the twins.
When the twins were born on 17 July 2003 at Guntur Government Hospital, an effort was made by its superintendent and noted pediatric surgeon Yarlagadda Naiudamma to separate them. He conducted four stages of surgeries on them but gave up after hitting the delicate phase of disentangling the brain vessels.
Later, the kids were shifted to Nilourfer hospital for better medical care.
Since then, the hospital in tandem with the government has consulted several leading experts from the UK, Australia, Singapore and Canada to separate them, but to no avail.
Ranganath explained to this newspaper that the case of Vani and Veena comes under a rare category where they share a common blood supplying vessel from brain to the heart, which cannot be disturbed even for a few minutes.
This surgery in medical parlance is called intra-arterial digital subtraction angioplasty and is done to treat this phenomenon called “Craniopagus”.
Over the years, Vani and Veena were visited by world famous neurosurgeons and told about an unsure outcome of surgery. Finally, the AIIMS team visited the twins last January and gave its report.