The Grapevine

What Is A Parasitic Twin? Extra Legs And Arms Removed From 9-Month-Old Girl In Live-Saving Operation

Dominique, a nine-month-old girl from Cote d'Ivoire in West Africa, received a life-saving operation in Chicago to remove a parasitic twin that if left, would surely kill her. The risky operation was a complete success, although Dominique was left with two spinal cords, as the surgeons were unable to untwine her own spinal cord from that of her twin. The young girl is the first case of such a condition in medical history, CNN reported.

Young Dominique traveled from Cote d'Ivoire in West Africa to Advocate Children's Hospital in Illinois to seek treatment to remove the extra limbs leftover from her twin. The twin had died early in the mother's pregnancy, was formed incompletely, and its parasitic limbs were completely dependent on Dominique's body to survive, CNN reported. The strain of supporting additional limbs would eventually prove too much for little Dominique, and would cause an early death.

Read: Fetus In Fetu: The Fascinating (And Rare) Phenomenon Of Parasitic Twins

The marathon 6-hour operation took place March 8, and was conducted by a team of five surgeons. The operation was a success with Dominique healing faster and returning back to her sponsor's home sooner than doctors had expected. The young girl weighed a full two pounds lighter after surgeons were able to remove the parasitic limbs. The doctors chose to leave the parasitic twin’s spinal cord, as it was so closely entwined with Dominique’s own. They will continue to watch Dominique for the rest of her life to monitor how having two spinal cords may affect her development.

dom 9-month old Dominique was able to have the legs and feet protruding from her neck and back successfully removed. Photo Courtesy of YouTube Screenshot/CNN

"Like any child, she needs to be cared for and watched for developmental issues," Dr. John Ruge, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Advocate who worked on Dominique, told CNN. "She has slightly more risk because she is built slightly more different than other children. But she looks great. We had 100 worries before surgery, and risks were high, so we're pleased with how she's doing."

A parasitic twin is a malformed twin that does not survive the pregnancy, but whose body tissues fuse to that of their surviving sibling, Livescience reported. The condition often happens when identical twins fail to fully separate, but one dies early. According to Livescience, doctors believe this occurs when restriction of blood supply in the womb during pregnancy causes one twin to die, and the other still forming child absorbs its blood and tissue.

Parasitic twins are sometimes confused as teratomas, which are tumors made up of out-of-place tissue, such as bone or teeth. However, According to The Embryo Project Encyclopedia, in order to be classified as a fetus in fetu and not a teratoma, a growth must display evidence of body plan organization. In Dominique’s case, the twin already had formed vertebrae and limbs.

While often parasitic twins are harmless, and some individuals can live most of their lives without even being aware of their presence, in the case of Dominique, the parasitic twin tissue was attached to her spine. This put her at risk of pressure and pulling on her spinal cord, which could cause paralysis. Doctors now expect Dominique to make a full recovering and live a fulfilling life.

 

 

See Also:

Malaysian Teen Undergoes Surgery To Remove Unborn Twin Brother From Stomach After 15 Years

Fetus In Fetu: Doctors Find 40-Year-Old Unborn Twin Growing Inside A Woman, Complete With Face And Hair

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