Doctors at Sidra Medicine successfully separated the first conjoined twins in Qatar, marking a first for the country and establishing once more an alternative option for patients who previously had limited choices for treatment and care of complex paediatric diseases in the region.
Globally, conjoined twins occur once in about every 200,000 births. The twins that were separated at Sidra Medicine, were conjoined at the liver and lower sternum – considered one of the riskier types of fusion, as each baby needs a fully functional liver and gastrointestinal tract of their own without compromising the other. Many such twins have additional malformations and most of them do not make it to birth. Omphalopagus twins, who are connected at the belly and liver, are some of the most complex to separate.
The twins’ mother was seen during her 29th week of pregnancy at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), while on a visit from Mali to Qatar. After confirming that the twins were conjoined and separation was possible, a multi-disciplinary team from HMC and Sidra Medicine arranged for the delivery and care for the country’s first conjoined twin separation.
Soon after birth, the twins were transferred to Sidra Medicine, under the care of a highly specialised team of neonatal ICU physicians, nurses, paediatric surgeons and allied healthcare professionals.
Led by Dr Mansour Ali, Chair of the Department of Paediatric Surgery, and Dr Abdalla Zarroug, Division Chief of Paediatric General and Thoracic Surgery, the four-month-old male twins were separated by a team of 10 surgeons and anaesthesiologists, during a nine-hour procedure that went without any complications.
Dr Mansour said he is proud to showcase the calibre of their multidisciplinary teams less than a year since they opened the inpatient facility. The surgery, he said, is both a milestone for the hospital and the healthcare sector in Qatar.
Less than 10 days after separation, Hamad and Tamim are recovering and are back to normal feeds and expected to live normal, independent lives.
Combined with access to the latest technology to support pre-surgical planning and delivery, Sidra have the advantage of having some of the world’s top paediatric specialists. Their goal, according to Dr Zarroug is to offer hope to patients when there may have been no hope before.
The surgery was planned and rehearsed for months with a full complement of over 150 medical and support staff undergoing over 30 hours of simulation to minimise the risks and improve patient outcomes. Sidra Medicine’s state-of-the-art 3D printing technology helped create a model of the boys’ abdomen and liver to assist with pre-surgical planning.
The parents of the twins said they were immensely grateful to the government of Qatar, HMC and Sidra Medicine for their efforts to save the lives of the boys. Watch the surgery video.