TWINS who were born with the tops of their heads fused together have been separated successfully by a team of British doctors after four highly complex operations.
Rital and Ritag Gaboura, who are now 11 months old, were separated on August 15 at Great Ormond Street Hospital after being brought over by a charity from their native Sudan.
The baby girls were craniopagus, meaning that they were fused at the cranium – a condition that affects only 2 per cent of conjoined twins.
The nature of their condition meant significant blood flowed between their brains, with Ritag supplying half the blood to her sister’s brain, while draining most of it back to her heart. While the twins did not share brain tissue, they remained at very significant risk because a drop in brain blood pressure would cause neurological damage. They spent four months in hospital.
So far, the girls are reacting in the same ways to tests and stimuli, which suggests they have not suffered neurological side effects.
However, their young age makes it difficult to determine whether this is definitely the case.
David Dunaway, who led the team from the plastic surgery and craniofacial unit at Great Ormond Street said that the incidences of surviving twins with this condition was extremely rare. “The task presented innumerable challenges and we were all very aware of our responsibilities to the family and these two little girls. The Gaboura family have been extremely brave throughout a very stressful journey.”
Mr Dunaway also paid tribute to the public for supporting the charity, Facing the World, which funded the work.
The children were delivered by Caesarean section last September in Khartoum. Both their parents are doctors. Their father, Abdelmajeed Gaboura, 31, is a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology, and their mother, Enas, 27, is still in training.
About 40 per cent of twins fused at the head are stillborn or die during labour and a another third die within 24 hours.