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US Doctors Successfully Operate on Baby With Four Legs


Foster mom Nancy Swabb holds Dominique, a 10-month-old baby born with two spines and an extra set of legs protruding from her neck during a news conference, March 21, 2017, at Advocate Children's Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

Doctors at an American hospital have successfully operated on a baby born with four legs and two spines.

The 10-month old baby girl is known only as ‘Dominique’ from Ivory Coast. She is reported to be recovering well.

Doctors separated her from a parasitic twin in a complex operation on March 8 at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois.

Hospital officials say the operation lasted six hours. It involved five surgeons and many other healthcare workers.

The bottom half of the not-fully-developed twin’s body was sticking out from Dominque’s neck and back. The twin was dependent on Dominque’s body and could not survive independently.

Dr. John Ruge is a child care specialist.

"This is a situation where identical twins failed to separate. And, the separation, it can be connected in a variety of different manners."

Dominique was born with two spinal columns. Without an operation her life would likely not be a long one with physical problems and pain, doctors said. They were concerned about the pressure put upon Dominique’s back and organs.

Doctor Ruge says her heart and lungs were working to support two bodies.

"It is as if the twin, from the waist down, had been attached to the back of Dominique's neck. And, there was a pelvis and bladder, and functional legs that moved, and feet coming out of the back of Dominique's neck. Now, this made it extremely dangerous for Dominique."

Doctors used imaging equipment to create a three-dimensional model of her two spines. A second bladder behind the extra legs had to be removed.

The team of surgeons performed a test operation to prepare for the surgery. In the real operation, doctors disconnected nerves and blood passages to prevent feelings of numbness or even paralysis.

Dr. Frank Vicari was also part of the surgical team.

"So, we took her to the operating room. We approached the problem, the critical part being at the base of the junction of the two spines and the abnormal pelvis. And, once we had control of that, I think it was pretty clear to most people in the operating room that we were going to be able to accomplish this surgery."

Dominique was able to sit up the day after the surgery and was released from the hospital five days later. She is now recovering at the home of a foster family in Chicago. They will care for her until she is well enough to return home to her family in Africa.

Doctors do believe that baby Dominique will be able to have a normal and productive life.

I’m Marsha James.

Victor Beattie reported on this story. Marsha James adapted this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

spine – n. backbone; the connected bones down the middle of the back

parasiticn. of or related to an organism living in, with or on another organism

twin – n. one of two persons produced at a birth

three-dimensional – adj. having or appearing to have length, width and depth

numbness – n. the not able to move

paralysis n. a condition in which you are unable to move or feel all or part of your body

approach v. to move or become nearer to something or someone

junction n. a place where two things join

foster familyn. a family that cares for a child for a short time

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