Rare 'Parasitic Twin' Successfully Removed From Infant

First Posted: Mar 24, 2017 03:58 AM EDT

A 10-month-old baby girl born with a rare "parasitic twin" attached to her body has recently undergone successful surgery to remove the underdeveloped twin. The infant called Dominique was born with the lower half of her twin’s body -- the legs and feet, protruding from her neck and upper back.

Dominique, who belongs to West Africa’s Ivory Coast, traveled to the U.S. where she underwent surgery at the Advocate Children's Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois. The operation took six hours during which the parasitic twin was removed without any complications.

According to foster care provider Nancy Swabb, Dominique is doing really well after the surgery. Swabb also added that post operation, the infant is also able to raise her hands slightly more than before. The operation has also reduced Dominique's weight by two pounds.

The condition of having a parasitic twin occurs when identical twins fail to separate in the womb. At birth, a baby that has a parasitic twin is largely intact. However, he/she carries the tissues of the underdeveloped twin that died in the womb itself during development. As per NCBI report, the parasitic twin, or rather its tissues, is dependent on the body systems of the host twin for support.

According to pediatric surgeon Dr. John Ruge, the reason why twins fail to separate is still not known. However, as per one hypothesis, such a case can happen if blood supply is restricted in the womb during pregnancy. The case of parasitic twins is quite rare, with about one case occurring in 1 million.

Incidentally, Dominique had a high risk of paralysis without surgery because the parasitic twin’s tissues were attached to the spine. This made the 10-month-old vulnerable to a pressure and pull on her spinal cord. Moreover, Dominique's lungs and heart had to support the parasitic twin, and not being operated would have shortened her lifespan.

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