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Surgeons Remove Baby's Second Head

Old 02-07-2004, 07:15 AM
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Surgeons Remove Baby's Second Head

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (Feb. 7) - An infant girl was recovering but still not out of danger following successful surgery to remove a second head.

The medical team led by a Los Angeles-based neurosurgeon completed the operation, which doctors believe to be the first of its kind, in nearly 11 hours, saying it went smoothly.

''We are super happy. This is what we hoped for, and it happened,'' said her father, Franklin Martinez. ''The only new thing now is that she'll be coming home without the extra part she used to have.''

The 8-week-old girl, Rebeca Martinez, is still susceptible to infection or hemorrhaging, Dr. Santiago Hazim said. She is in intensive care and is expected to remain in the hospital at least 10 days.

''Now we begin the second big risk, the post-operation recovery,'' said Hazim, medical director of Santo Domingo's Center for Orthopedic Specialties, where the surgery was performed.

The second head, a partially formed twin that doctors said threatened the girl's development, had its own partly developed brain, ears, eyes and lips.

Eighteen surgeons, nurses and doctors took several rotations to cut off the undeveloped tissue, clip the veins and arteries, and close the skull using a bone and skin graft from the second head.

''The girl is doing great. The surgery is over and her head has been closed,'' Hazim said.

The surgery was complicated because the two heads share arteries. Although only partially developed, the mouth on her second head moved when Rebeca was being breast-fed.

The operation was critical because the head on top was growing faster than the lower one, said Dr. Jorge Lazareff, the lead brain surgeon and director of pediatric neurosurgery at the University of California at Los Angeles' Mattel Children's Hospital.

Without an operation, he said, ''the child would barely be able to lift her head at 3 months old.''

Lazareff said the pressure from the second head, attached on top of the first and facing up, would have prevented Rebeca's brain from developing.

CURE International, a Lemoyne, Pa.-based charity that funds the orthopedic center and gives medical care to disabled children in developing countries, was paying an estimated $100,000 for the surgery.

Before the surgery began, Rebeca's parents followed her to the door of the operating room and said a prayer over their baby, holding hands and gently caressing their daughter's head. ''Be strong, Rebeca. May God be with you,'' her 26-year-old mother Maria Gisela Hiciano said.

During the operation she and Martinez, 29, waited in a separate room watching baseball on television and receiving visitors who brought flowers and stuffed animals. Psychologists also visited them.

Lazareff led a team that successfully separated conjoined Guatemalan twin girls in 2002. He performed Rebeca's operation along with Dr. Benjamin Rivera, a neurosurgeon at the Medical Center of Santo Domingo and the orthopedic center.
Doctors say it's possible that Rebeca won't need physical therapy and will develop as a normal child.

Rebeca was born on Dec. 10 with the undeveloped head of her twin, a condition known as craniopagus parasiticus.

Twins born conjoined at the head are extremely rare, accounting for one of every 2.5 million births. Such twins have previously been separated in surgery.

Parasitic twins like Rebeca, however, are even rarer. She is the eighth documented case in the world of craniopagus parasiticus, Hazim said. All the other infants documented to have had the condition died before birth, making Rebeca's surgery the first known operation of its kind, according to Lazareff and the other doctors.

Martinez, a tailor, and his wife, who is a supermarket cashier, together make about $200 a month and have two other children ages 4 and 1.

They say doctors told them Rebeca would be born with a tumor on her head but that none of the prenatal tests showed a second head.

AP-NY-02-07-04 0324EST
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Old 02-07-2004, 08:04 AM
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Old 02-07-2004, 08:26 AM
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Good deal.
Dang sure don't need a new breed of women with two mouths to gripe out of...
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Old 02-07-2004, 09:29 AM
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WOW- amazing what doctors can do now these days
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Old 02-07-2004, 10:24 AM
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She just died
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Old 02-07-2004, 01:08 PM
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I heard that Indy...
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Old 02-07-2004, 02:19 PM
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yep.... first time attempt at this type of surgery... patient died.. or as doctors say... the operation was a success! but the patient died...
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Old 02-07-2004, 04:01 PM
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Very sad indeed...

But also sad is the continued practice of families making $200/month having 2 children or more in the Dom Rep, here or anywhere..
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Old 02-07-2004, 08:34 PM
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Poor thing.
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Old 02-07-2004, 08:43 PM
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