By CAITLIN STOWER
Paul Mukisa is only four months old, but he’s already got a pretty inspiring tale of survival to tell.
The baby boy was born on 27 May in Nabigingo, Uganda, with four arms and four legs — and now, after a lengthy surgery involving multiple surgeons, anasthesia and a blood transfusion, he’s successfully had his extra limbs removed.
Little Paul was transported to a hospital after his birth at home, and doctors diagnosed him with parasitic twinning, a congenital birth defect whereby a conjoined twin is only partially formed.
In baby Paul’s case, the condition also meant that his heart and was on the right side of his chest instead of his left, while his liver was on the left side instead of the right. Because his internal organs are reversed, little Paul may suffer in his life from conditions like heart failure, infertility and infection. This condition can even cause death.
Surgeons at Mulago hospital in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala felt operating on Paul straight after birth would present a high risk, so he was sent home for three months to allow his body to grow.
A few weeks ago, that three months was up — and baby Paul received the operation he needed for a healthy and happy life.
One of Paul’s surgeons, Dr Nasser Kakembo, explained the details involved in the three-hour operation to CNN.
“The baby was given general anesthesia and the torso and trunk of the parasitic twin — which had two arms but no head or heart — was detached from the host baby,” Dr Kakembo said.
“Then we also detached the lower limbs of the parasitic twin from the host, which included disarticulating the right and left lower limbs as they were attached by joints,” he said.
“There were no intra-operative or post-operative complications and mild blood loss and a precautionary blood transfusion was given.”
Parasitic twinning is common in developing countries; World Health Organisation estimates 94 per cent of congenital anomalies occur in middle- and low-resource countries like Uganda.
According to the WHO’s January report, mothers in these countries are subject to malnutrition and have an increased exposure to factors that may increase the risk of abnormal foetal development.
Baby Paul is now recovering well at home with his mother, according to Dr Kakembo.
“The father and mother were very grateful because at first they thought it was due to witchcraft, and their baby was a laughing stock because of the abnormalities,” Dr Kakembo said. “(We) anticipate a healthy baby that may have a wide gait due to the large pelvic bone, and this may require orthopedic reconstruction in the future.”