November 7, 2007 in Nation/World

Eight-limbed girl having ‘parasitic twin’ removed

Gavin Rabinowitz Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Lakshmi, 2, was born with four arms and four legs.Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

BANGALORE, India – Revered by some in her village as the reincarnation of a Hindu goddess, a 2-year-old girl born with four arms and four legs underwent an extensive surgery through the night to leave her with a normal body.

Several hours into the operation, Dr. Sharan Patil said that Lakshmi “has been responding very well.” A briefing was scheduled for this morning.

The girl was born joined to a “parasitic twin” that stopped developing in the mother’s womb. The surviving fetus absorbed the limbs, kidneys and other body parts of the undeveloped fetus.

A team of 30 doctors began removing the extra limbs and organs on Tuesday, surgery that if successful would give her a good chance to live past adolescence.

Children born with deformities in deeply traditional rural parts of India, like the remote village in the northern state of Bihar that Lakshmi hails from, are often viewed as reincarnated gods. The young girl is no different – she is named after the four-armed Hindu goddess of wealth and her parents say she is revered in her village.

“Everybody considers her a goddess at our village,” said her father, Shambhu, who goes by one name. “All this expenditure has happened to make her normal. So far, everything is fine.”

Others sought to make money from Lakshmi. Her parents kept her in hiding after a circus apparently tried to buy the girl, they said.

The complications for Lakshmi’s surgery were myriad: She was born with four kidneys, entangled nerves, two stomach cavities and two chest cavities. She cannot stand up or walk.

“It’s a big team effort of a lot of skilled surgeons who will be putting their heart and soul into solving the problem of Lakshmi,” Patil said.

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