Ganga and Jamuna were joined at the head when they were born four months ago at the Indra Rajya Laxmi Maternity Hospital in Thapathali. Their mother, Sandhya Shrestha, and father, Bhusan K.C., are from Piuthan. Sandhya had to undergo a caesarean, and the babies weighed only 3.5 kg together. They have since grown into two healthy babies and have made steady progress to weigh nearly 10 kg.
Now a group of Nepali doctors led by noted neurosurgeon Dr Upendra Devkota is teaming up with the state-of-the-art Singapore General Hospital to try to separate the twins. This is a case similar to the much-publicised one in Britain in which Siamese twins joined at the abdomen will be separated by surgery, but only one of them will survive. Doctors say there is a chance that both Ganga and Jamuna will survive their operation.
"This is an extremely complicated case that demands extreme surgical care, and equipment that we don't have in Nepal," says Dr Devkota who will be flying out to Singapore with the twins, their parents and his colleague, Dr G.R. Sharma. The brains of Ganga and Jamuna are joined, and preliminary MRI scans done here showed that it would indeed be possible for an operation to separate them. Dr Devkota consulted with his former colleague, Dr Keith Goh, and with help from the Singapore government and Singapore Airlines it is now possible for everyone to fly to Singapore later this month to have the operation performed.
But before that, Dr Devkota and his team will have to come up with a three-dimensional reconstruction of the joined brain, check out the blood vessels in the brain that have to be cut and joined, and perform a computer simulated operation many times before they go for the actual thing. "All this would not have been possible if we did not have access to the most advanced equipment that they have at Singapore General," Dr Devkota told us. "But we are not going to take any chances, and a lot will depend on what the scans in Singapore show."