One year after their birth as triplets in one of Kaduna’s remote communities, two of the babies, Hassana and Hussaina, who are conjoined and share some organs have received an offer for free separation surgery by a United Arab Emirates (UAE) hospital. Daily Trust on Sunday reports that N57.6 million is required for non-surgery expenses, including tests, drugs, flight tickets, nine months accommodation, feeding, among others.
When Malam Hassan Isa left his home at Gangara community in Giwa LGA of Kaduna State in the morning sometime in early January, 2022, he didn’t envisage that his pregnant wife, Suwaiba, would deliver triplets. A medical scan months earlier revealed that Suwaiba was pregnant with twins. It was her eighth pregnancy, and her husband, a twin himself, said he was elated. However, when his sister-in-law approached him at the village square later that morning to announce that his wife had delivered, Isa said a sense of foreboding descended on him.
Isa told Daily Trust on Sunday that he rushed home and discovered that several villagers had converged outside his home.
He said, “When I saw that my wife had delivered triplets, not twins, I felt a sense of relief and gratitude to Allah, not minding that two of the girls were joined together. It is a miracle that is left for only Allah.”
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Suwaiba recalled in a telephone conversation that, “It was a simple delivery.”
The 33-year-old mother explained that the labour pains started around 5am when she woke up to ease herself and say her early morning prayers. She said she had prepared to welcome a set of twins, but that instead a set of female conjoined twins popped out.
She said alone in her room, “I saw them, and honestly I was not afraid and not even worried. I am a believer. A few seconds later, I felt my abdomen move again and I thought the placenta was about to come out, but it was another girl; I had delivered triplets.”
The couple told this reporter that they were persuaded to leave their home on the fringes of Kaduna, near Funtua in Katsina State for the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria.
Hassana and Hussaina’s triplet sister, Hauwa, has been medically certified healthy. The triplets spent almost nine months at ABUTH where they underwent nutritional rehabilitation and some investigations with the help of Global Initiative for Peace, Love and Care (GIPLC); an NGO which caters for vulnerable children and women. The family were moved to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Gwagwalada, where they are presently being observed.
With a reputation for successful separation of conjoined twins, UATH in 2018 separated a set of conjoined twins whose liver was one.
However, the National Coordinator of GIPLC, Nuhu Fulani Kwajafa, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the case of the Isa conjoined twins, Hassana and Hussaina, was more complicated.
Shedding more light on the issue, a consultant paediatric surgeon at ABUTH, told our correspondent that Hassana and Hussaina had a condition called omphalo-ischiopagus tetrapod; which means they are joined in the abdomen and in the pelvis and have four legs.
He explained that so far no case as complicated as theirs had survived separation in Nigeria, even though he noted that their chance of survival if separated overseas was between 70 and 80 per cent.
He said they had reached the perfect time for separation, as separation should be done usually between nine and 12 months for complex cases. “This is for them to be able to develop like other children. By this time, you expect a child to be able to start sitting down, crawling and walking. You also need that period for two things: for them to grow well so that their tissues can be well separated. Secondly, to buy time for all the investigations you need to do so that when you are going in for surgery you know that this is what you are going in to treat.”
Meanwhile, Kwajafa said a London-based hospital had sent a bill of £896,000 for the surgery before a UAE hospital, Burjeel Medical City, in Abu Dhabi, put the surgery bill at $300,000, but that the hospital had offered to conduct the separation for free.
Daily Trust on Sunday further reports that a letter from Burjeel Medical City addressed to the GIPLC by its director of operations, Jayaprakash Kalijavedu, stated that it would cover the medical expenses for the entire procedure during and post-treatment.
Kwajafa said, “In fact, the chairman of the hospital has a keen interest in the case and has offered to send a team of doctors to Nigeria to accompany the family back to the UAE for a projected nine-month post-surgery stay for close observation to complete recovery. The surgery will be conducted by doctors from Italy, USA and UAE.”
Though elated by the offer, Kwajafa said getting the triplets, their parents, an interpreter and the link person to the UAE hospital, as well as resources for their accommodation, feeding and other logistics would cost about N57.6m, which remained an obstacle to the separation at the moment.
He, however, noted that the Kaduna State Government had through the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, provided funds for the family’s upkeep and hospital scans and tests at the early stage of investigations and that Governor Nasir El-Rufai had also promised to make further financial assistance when the final bill for separation was ready.
A Nigerian journalist based in the UK, George Onmonya Daniel, also said he mentioned the plight of the family to Gov El-Rufai during an airport chance meeting in which the governor promised financial assistance for the separation.