Three US based Nigerian doctors separate conjoined twins in Houston
NIGERIANS abroad have again lifted the image of the country as three US-based Nigerian medical doctors are counted among a medical team that accomplished the unusual feat of successfully separating conjoined twins in what is now making the waves in the US media and the medical world globally.
The 26-hour long historic surgical separation of 10 months old conjoined twins in a Houston, Texas hospital was recently conducted by a medical team that included among others, two Nigerian female doctors and one male doctor, Professor Oluyinka Olutoye, one of the top surgeons in the team.
The conjoined twins, Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata were successfully separated on February 17 and 18.
Speaking exclusively with The Guardian over the weekend, Olutoye, the Texas Children Hospital’s pediatric surgeon said there were 12 surgeons, 4 anesthesiologists and 8 nurses in the team that operated on the female twin babies.
One of the anesthesiologists is Olutoye’s wife, Dr. Toyin Olutoye. The third Nigerian doctor among the team which is now drawing applause and praise in the US and beyond is Dr. Mrs. Oluyemisi Fowode-Adeyemi, a pediatric gynecology fellow in the hospital.
The Nigerian community is now sharing in the praise and recognition that this medical feat has brought as all the medical practitioners involved are now being celebrated in the US media and society. Most of the major American TV stations and top newspapers have reported on the feat which took place over a week ago.
Reacting to the news, the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, CANAN which represents about 1000 Nigerian churches in the US said ‘the active inclusion of three distinguished Nigerian doctors in the history-making conjoined twins separation in Houston is another showcase of how outstanding Nigerians are impacting the American community positively, and we are very proud of all three of them, as we congratulate all the leading and supporting medical personnel involved in the arduous surgery.”
Olutoye who is one of the top surgeons in the historic separation is also the Co-Director of the Texas Children’s Fetal Center and Co-Program Director of Perinatal Surgery Fellowship Program of the well-known Baylor College of Medicine. He came to the U.S. in 1989 to pursue his post-doctoral studies before deciding to stay back.
Local US media quoted the leader of the medical team, Dr Darrell Cass, pediatric surgeon and co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center as saying: “This surgery was not without its challenges with the girls sharing several organs systems”. While the surgery lasted, the Nigerian doctors and their colleagues worked on Knatalye for about 23 hours and Adeline for 26, but Olutoye said they took breaks at different intervals.
Explaining further, Olutoye, who graduated from Kings College, Lagos and then University of Ife as a doctor, disclosed that the twins were actually 10 month-old and had to be previously delivered as premature babies. He said in anticipation of the separation surgery, tissue expanders were used to help prepare their skins.
According to him, “it is a blessing to be able to be part of a team that can help improve the lives of this two children. Now they have the potential to live a happy normal life.” The Nigerian surgeon said he was glad that Nigerians are being recognized in the US for such successes like this one.
He explained that the Siamese Twins who were born April 2014 to Elysse Mata, and her husband, John, were conjoined at the chest almost face-to-face, linked at the abdomen and sharing a common liver.
The twins had 4 kidneys going into two bladders, Olutoye disclosed adding that they also shared major organs like diaphragm, pelvis, lungs intestines and lining of the heart. But he noted that graciously the twins had separate hearts.
According to the US-based Nigerian surgeon, in many cases of such conjoined twins, separating them could be technically impossible, depending on where and how they are joined. Although conjoined twins rarely occur may be 1 in 100,000 to 500,000 case, Olutoye said.
The twins are now recovering, Olutoye said, adding that their full recovery is anticipated even if that takes a little while. Reports said the hospital has not set a release date for the children since Feb 18 when the surgery was completed.
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