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First in India: Jagga and Balia, conjoined twins born with brains fused, separated successfully by doctors at AIIMS

Craniopagus twinning is the rarest of form congenital abnormalities, accounting for just 2–6% of all conjoined twins

The first successful craniopagus conjoined twin separation surgery from India, where both the children survived, was performed by doctors at AIIMS over two years. The two children from Odisha, Jagga and Balia, who were joined by the head, are now finally ready to go home.

The surgery employed all modern technology such as 3D print model technology for brain and skull model development, venous bypass, staged surgeries among others. While Jagga is normal, Balia cannot speak yet and would need prolonged rehabilitation.

“He will get better over the years, but Balia is unlikely to be 100% normal, ever. How can we even expect that? The brains of the both the children were never fully formed. Luckily for Jagga, he had a proper blood circulation in the brain. We had to put in a venous graft for Balia to maintain blood supply. Even then some parts of his brain are likely to atrophy or die off,” Dr Deepak Gupta, head of the surgical team and a paediatric neurosurgeon at AIIMS-Delhi, said. Dr. Gupta added that when the twin first came to the hospital in July 2017, not only were their skulls connected, their brains were fused too and they shared the circulatory system.

Craniopagus twinning is the rarest of form congenital abnormalities, accounting for just 2–6% of all conjoined twins. Mortality in such twins are very high, and only 25% Craniopagus twins survive after birth.

The doctors were congratulated by Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan. He stated, “It is such a great coincidence that Jagga and Balia will reach home on 7th September and Chandrayaan II will also touch the moon on the same date. It’s not only India’s scientists that are doing India proud, it is the commendable determination and commitment of the doctors also that is making India proud. This rarest of the rare surgery is one such shining example. It can be called “AIIMS Delhi Jagga and Balia craniopagus surgery”.”

He further said, “The doctors did an excellent job over the last 2 years and two months. Despite multiple complications, the surgeries were successful. I still believe picture is not over yet. It’s just the beginning. The twins still have a long journey to cover. They will be rehabilitated, and the time is also ripe for them to go to school. I think they have the blessings of Lord Jagannath and He will take care of them.”

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