Doctors in southern India completed a grueling 24-hour operation Wednesday on a girl born with four arms and four legs that surgeons said will give the 2-year-old a chance at a normal life.
The surgery went “wonderfully well,” said Dr. Sharan Patil, who led a team of more than 30 surgeons in performing the marathon procedure to remove Lakshmi’s extra limbs, salvage her organs and rebuild her pelvis area.
“This girl can now lead as good a life as anyone else,” Patil said from a hospital in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.
Lakshmi, who has been revered by some in her village as the reincarnation of a Hindu goddess, was born joined at the pelvis to a “parasitic twin” that stopped developing in her mother’s womb. The surviving fetus absorbed the limbs, kidneys and other body parts of the undeveloped fetus.
“This is a very rare occurrence,” said Dr. Doug Miniati a pediatric surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the surgery. Miniati said the surgery was extremely complicated but her chances of survival were greater because she was not joined at the heart or brain.
The doctors worked through the night to remove the extra limbs and organs. By midnight, a team of neurologists had separated the fused spines while orthopedic surgeons removed most of the “parasite,” carefully identifying which organs and internal structures belonged to the girl, said Patil.