National Hospital discharges first successfully operated conjoined twins

• Health Minister offers mother automatic employment

In an elaborated ceremony that involved the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora and it’s Chief Medical Medical Director, Dr Jaf Momoh, the National Hospital, Abuja on Tuesday discharge its first successful operated conjoined twins- Goodness and Mercy-after 16 months in the hospital.

Addressing a press conference at the Trauma Centre, National Hospital, the Minster expressed delight at the leadership of the National Hospital and the medical team that successfully carried out the operation, the first at the National Hospital.

The two babies were delivered at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Keffi, on August 13, 2018, conjoined face-to-face at the chest and abdomen, from where they were referred to the National Hospital, Abuja the following day,
August 14, 2018.

The Surgery was successfully done on November 12th, 2019, by a combined team of medical personnel

Dr Ehanire, who applauded the feat said the babies had to be nurtured first to stable health by a team of neonatologists, as medical imaging experts conducted tests and studies to determine what and how internal organs were shared or connected between them.

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The minister said: “In a remarkable operation that followed very detailed planning and preparation, a mixed team of paediatric, plastic and cardiothoracic surgeons, led by Prof. Ameh, performed the operation to separate the twins. It was the first successful operation of this type at this hospital and it marks a bold venture into the realm of advanced surgery.

“Twins are conjoined in the womb when an embryo fails to divide completely during the formation, a condition that can present complex and delicate challenges to teams attempting separation especially when critical internal organs like the liver, heart and intestines are shared or connected.”

Dr Ehanire pointed out that the successful outcome of the surgery was due to the availability of top experts at National Hospital Abuja, their dedication to the profession, the careful planning, the excellent teamwork and administrative support they received.

The minister said: “These beautiful girls of Benue State origin, aptly named Goodness and Mercy, and the proud parents, are beneficiaries of a healthcare system when it functions as it supposed to. In this case, the management team has demonstrated that our health system, even with modest resources, can rise up to the highest challenges and offer quality care, to find its position among renowned international hospitals.

“It also shows that as the Administration of President Buhari aims for grassroots universal health coverage, support for tertiary care to improve performance, is by no means lost.

“I must especially commend the CMD and management of National Hospital Abuja for their leadership. I salute the strong complement of highly trained committed personnel who have shown, not only their individual expertise in medicine but the extraordinary ability for seamless teamwork that made this intricate level of advanced surgery possible. I urge all hospitals in Nigeria to also aim higher and emulate this team. The government shall continue to invest in people and strengthen institutions and systems, in this case, tertiary hospitals and our healthcare system.”

He added that the National Hospital took on the case as its assignment and mobilised financial resources for the treatment, which was beyond the reach of the family.

“This indicates that the Hospital is alive to social and humanitarian responsibility to make care affordable, but also to support patients with the need to access specialised care but limited means.” Dr Ehanire said.

He added: “Goodness and Mercy came to Abuja joined as one, but are now ready to return home as two individuals. Separated conjoined twins still require rehabilitation and continuing care. The government shall monitor progress through National Hospital and assist where needed to see them achieve their potential.”

Due to the social status of the parents and the need to continue to cater to the children, the Minister directed that their mother, Mrs Mariah Martins, should be given automatic employment.

The Chief Medical Director, Dr.Jaf Momoh said babies Goodness and Mercy have been on admission at the Hospital for over 14 months, for care and several diagnostic procedures to make a detailed diagnosis that aided the plan for surgery.

He pointed out that his attention was first drawn to their needs as a result of the inability to meet some of the basic cost of Hospital admission; adding that following the assessment of their social status by the hospital, the family was classified as indigent.

Thereafter, he stated that the management of National Hospital decided to fund the care and the entire processes leading to and including the major surgical procedure for the separation, as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR).

“We, therefore, ensured that a lack of funds did not stop these beautiful girls from having the opportunity to enjoy their lives independently. The management of these patients was multidisciplinary, across many departments.” He said.

Also giving the report on Haematology support for the separation of the conjoined twins, the acting Head, Department of Haematology Dr E. I. David, said the department provided both technical and blood product support.

He explained that the children were reviewed by two doctors (Drs. Ogbe and Wakama) to determine blood requirements for surgery, adding that the hospital provided five units of apheresis platelets and two fresh frozen plasma for surgery.

The mother of the conjoined twins, Mrs Mariah Martins said the three scans she did during the pregnancy did not indicate that her babies were cojoined but twins; adding that one of the scans was carried out at a private medical facility outside the hospital while the remaining two were done at the hospital in FMC, Keffi.

She explained that it was only discovered when they were delivered through operation at the labour room, the situation she said threw the people into confusion.

On the minister decision to give her automatic employment, she said, “I was very happy, what can I say than to say thank you to the minister, to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and to the hospital.”

The husband, Mr Micheal Edeh Martins said: “I don’t know what to say, the only thing is to just give God all the glory because I don’t know what would have happened. Everybody was praying for us when they were born, they were giving us hope.”

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