Conjoined twins doing well after separation surgery

Mom, Ntombikayise Tyhalisi with her twins, Siphosethu and Amahle after the successful operation.

Three months after their separation surgery in February, conjoined twins Siphosethu and Amahle Tyhalisi are recovering well at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Their overjoyed mother, Ntombikayise Tyhalisi, 31, said she had not expected to leave the hospital “holding my children one in each arm”.

The twins were born in the Eastern Cape and were taken to the Children’s hospital at only four days old.

Children’s hospital spokesperson, Dwayne Evans said the separation operation surgery had involved a multi-disciplinary team involving a full set of specialists for each twin. “Each team consisted of an anaesthetist, neurosurgeon, plastic surgeon and nurses,” he said.

Head of paediatric neurosurgery at the Children’s Hospital, Professor Tony Figaji explained that the twins had been joined at the head in what is medically referred to as craniopagus twinning. “It’s the rarest form of conjoined twinning, (and occurs) approximately once in every 2.5 million live births worldwide,” he said.

Professor Figaji said in this case they were fortunate that the connection did not involve any shared brain tissue and didn’t involve major blood vessels going from one twin to the other.

Head of plastic surgery at the Children’s Hospital, Professor Saleigh Adams said the teams had prepared for a six-hour surgery, but it had taken far less time. “On this occasion the surgery lasted all of one and a half hours and this is a huge plus for the recovery of the twins,” he said.

Mr Evans said the focus was now on ensuring the healthy healing of the surgical areas. “Both patients and mom are doing well following the surgery and continue to receive follow up care,” he said.

The surgical team during the operation from left, Dr Bruce Lelala, Professor Saleigh Adams, Professor Tony Figaji and Dr Sindiswa Tango.