New Delhi: A little less than eight months old, Shaily tries to grab the hands of a reporter her mother is talking to while her twin Shilpa plays in her father's lap nearby. Shaily and Shilpa were joined at birth and were surgically separated at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) when they were six months old. Both of them are healthy and cheerful now.

The twins were born to Lal Bhai, a daily wage labourer, and Shashikala at Aber village of Satna in Madhya Pradesh. They were brought to AIIMS on Nov 12, 2012, nearly a month after their birth. For the poor parents, a surgery for their daughters was an impossible dream. However, MP from Satna, Ganesh Singh, stepped in and brought them to AIIMS.

Doctors took nearly five months to complete checkups on the girls and plan the surgery, which took place on May 29. Doctors said the girls shared one vital organ, the liver, which was to their advantage.

"The girls were joined at chest, so our first concern was whether they shared the heart. Fortunately, they had separate hearts and other organs, but shared the liver," said M Bajpai, professor of pediatric surgery at AIIMS.

The surgery took about eight hours, during which the liver was separated and was covered in local body tissues. The chest and bone muscles were also separated and a reconstructive surgery was done.

"We are feeling blessed that our children are healthy," said Lal Bhai. The parents are now hopeful of a bright future for their girls. "We want to give them good opportunities in life, to educate them," said Lal Bhai.


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