MWAPE MWENYA, Lusaka
ZAMBIA is set for a medical breakthrough when local surgeons will for the first time separate Siamese twins who were born two months
ago in Kawambwa, Luapula Province.
The University Teaching Hospital (UTH) has constituted a team of doctors who will give updates on when the operation will be conducted on the twins, whose abdomens are attached to each other.
By yesterday morning, the identical girls, Bupe and Mapalo, were weighing 6.7kg from the birthweight of 3.5kg as confirmed by Women and New Born Hospital senior medical superintendent Maureen Chisembele.
Dr Chisembele said in an interview that a team of surgeons being led by Bruce Vulani has advised that the surgery will take place when the twins are between six and nine months old.
“The older they are the better for the surgery. It’s incumbent upon UTH to ensure that everything is put in place for the operation to be successful.
“Some of the things we are looking at include adequate space since we will be operating on two individuals and all the modifications have to be put in place,” Dr Chisembele said.
She said as the due date gets closer, the nation will be informed about how many doctors will be engaged and the number of hours the operation will take.
Dr Chisembele said preliminary investigations have indicated that there are no complicated tissues connecting the babies despite being attached on their abdomens.
She said Siamese twins are a rare kind of birth at UTH and Zambia as a whole, and that the major cause is incomplete division of one fertilised ovum.
UTH successfully carried out its first open heart surgery about 14 years ago on Fanny Zulu, a soccer referee of Luanshya aged 44 at the time.
The operation, which was carried out in October 2003, cost the hospital K50,000. Mrs Zulu, who at many fora inspired many doubters to undergone similar operations at the major referral centre, went on to resume her refereeing career after her successful open heart surgery.
Her story inspired confidence in the UTH’s capacity, culminating into other cardiac as well as many other complex surgeries performed at the institution.
According to the UTH website, the Department of Surgery is currently the largest and with the most diverse specialised units such as general surgery, othorpaedic and trauma, ophthalmology, urology, paediatric, otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), cardiac, laparoscopy, neurosurgery, and maxillofacial surgery.
The department also boasts of having the largest theatre, which caters for emergency operations every day of the week and elective operations only during weekdays by individual specialised units.