Conjoined twins are a rare phenomenon, occurring once in every 200,000 live births. Sadly, the survival rate for these humans is low with a range of five to 25 percent, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. But an even rarer and sadder occurrence took place for a newborn in India.

At just 5 days old, the unnamed boy underwent surgery to remove his twin, the sad part not being that his twin was dead but that it was not even a fully developed human, the Daily Mail reported. The twin was heteropagus, meaning that it developed anatomically incorrectly, taking on the form of a 12-centimeter tail early in the pregnancy and protruding out of the boy’s lower back.

“I was shocked when I saw my baby boy,” said his mother, Jamnibhen Patel, 30. “His tail resembled lord Hanuman [the monkey god] but I wanted it off immediately. I was in tears and felt very sad for him.”

Hanuman is a popular deity in Hinduism that appears in the form of a monkey. Many children born with tails in India keep them because they are considered sacred and in some cases signs that the children are the incarnation of Hindu deities.

‘I love my tail. It’s a gift from God,” said Arshid Ali Khan, a 13-year-old boy in Punjab, India, who was born with a 7-inch tail protruding from his back. “It’s unusual, but people respect me and bow before me because of it. I feel special.” Since his birth, Khan has gained an extensive group of followers who call him Balaji and claim that he is the reincarnation of Hanuman.

But the unnamed child’s parents opted to remove the growth out of fear that it may become cancerous. The operation took place at Aarna Superspeciality Hospital, in Ahmedabad, India, lasting four hours and requiring three surgeons to remove it. The tail weighed a little less than a pound.

“My wife and I discussed it for a while,” said the boy’s father, Kanjibhai Patel, 32, “and we decided it was best for his future to have it removed.” He added that they also were afraid that the boy would be “teased at school or throughout his adult life” if he did not have it removed.

Heteropagus twins, also referred to as parasitic or asymmetrical conjoined twins, is an extremely rare case in which a defective fetus latches itself on to a more intact one for survival. Such cases are estimated to take place in one out of one million live births, according to a study titled Heteropagus (parasitic) twins: a review.

Dr. Rohit Joshi, the chairman at Aarna Superspeciality Hospital, says that heteropagus twins are more common in India and Africa and that they are very different from symmetrical conjoined twins. “[They] differ in several ways from symmetrical conjoined twins, as they have no major connection of vessels, bowels or bones,” he said.

Earning 12,000 Rupees ($196.75) a month as a farmer, Patel was unable to provide his wife with medical assistance, including an ultrasound, which could have detected the abnormality early on. An MRI could have later confirmed this, according to Joshi. Family, friends, and the community where the Patels live chipped in, donating up to 100,000 Rupees ($1,639.61) to pay for the surgery.

Patel also thought that based on his wife’s three previous pregnancies, which resulted in healthy babies, that this one would be no different.

“'I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him – no child should suffer a tail,” he said. “How would they go on to live a normal life?”