In October of 2005 a baby girl was born with 4 arms, 4 legs, and 2 torsos in a remote region of India called Bihar. She was named after the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi, because of her resemblance to the deity.
People came from all over the region to get blessings from the baby girl they believed was an incarnation of a goddess. However, Lakshmi’s parents wanted to give her a normal, healthy life, so they sought medical help. But none of the local doctors could offer any assistance because her medical condition is extremely rare and complex.
Lakshmi Tatma was diagnosed with a condition called ischiopagi, the medical term for conjoined twins joined at the pelvis; ischio is Greek for hip, relating to the ischium, and pagus meaning fixed or united. In Lakshmi’s case the twin was parasitic. Conjoined twins is one of the rarest congenital anomalies because they only happen in 1:50,000-1:200,000 births. The frequency of ischiopagus conjoined twinning is even more rare, representing only 6% of all conjoined twins.
In parasitic ischiopagus, the dead twin has to be surgically separated from the healthy twin. This is a complicated procedure because twins joined at the hips usually share a gastrointestinal tract and genitals, and reconstructive surgery after the separation is often necessary.
Luckily word of Lakshmi’s condition spread to an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Sharan Patil at a renowned facility in Banglore, Sparsh Hospital. After Patil traveled to Bihar and examined Lakshmi, he offered to cover all of the medical expenses if her family brought her to Sparsh Hospital.
In November of 2007 Lakshmi under went a grueling 27-hour surgery that took 30 surgeons working in 8-hour shifts. The medical team separated Lakshmi’s vertebral column and kidney from the parasitic twin, and started the process of closing her hips and corrected the position of her bladder and genitals.
As of 2010, news agencies reported that Lakshmi needed additional surgeries to continue the process of closing her hips, correct a curve in her spine (scoliosis), and to fix problems with her bladder. Despite all of the health problems she has had to overcome in her young life, Lakshmi is a happy and healthy little girl who is thriving.
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