A team of doctors in Nigeria have successfully conducted a surgery that separated a set of conjoined twins.

The doctors spent 13 hours performing complex surgery to separate Goodness and Mercy Martins at the National Hospital Abuja. The surgery involved 78 doctors working in two groups.

Goodness and Mercy Martins were born on 13th of August 2018 at the Federal Medical Centre, Keffi Nasarawa state, through a caesarean session.

Their unemployed mother had no idea she was expecting twins and she was even more shocked when they came out joined at the chest and abdomen.

Lead surgeon Emmanuel Ameh told the BBC the operation to separate Goodness and Mercy Martins at the chest and abdomen took place in November and the two sisters were now well enough to go home.

He said the operation, which cost about $55,000, was complicated. But the medics at National Hospital Abuja did not charge for their work because the twins’ parents – Michael Edeh and Maria Onya Martins – could not afford the medical bills. They rely on Mr Martins’ salary as a painter to get by.

Consultant pediatric surgeon, Professor Emmanuel Ameh, who led the team of experts, explained that the case Goodness and Mercy Martins was unusual because they were joined at two of the most delicate organs of the body.

He presented a short animation video which explained the steps taken to separate the sisters.

“This is an extremely rare condition. The biggest challenge we faced had to do with their separation at the chest region. This is really the first time that twins joined in the chest and the abdomen are separated throughout the entire country. All the other separated twins are joined only in one organ,” Ameh said.

The National Hospital Abuja has separated about 11 conjoined twins over the last 20 years, but in those cases all the twins had been joined at the abdomen.

The hospital’s medical director, Jaff Momoh, said this case stood out as it was the first time an operation had involved the lower chest wall, liver and diaphragm.

The father of the twins, Mr Martins, a painter from Oturkpo, said he was so happy to see his daughters alive and well. He added that the family was looking forward to returning home.

He said: “I am so happy to see Goodness wrapped separately. I initially couldn’t believe it. My gratitude goes to God and the medical team. May this success continue.”

His wife said words were not enough to thank the team of doctors and the kindness of the hospital staff.

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