8-limbed baby undergoes successful 3-stage surgery in India
Surgeons at the Jaypee Hospital in the city of Noida completed a three-stage operation to remove the seven-month-old boy’s extra limbs. The infant, named Karam, suffered from an extremely rare condition called polymelia, which affects one in a million infants.
Polymelia, also known as hydra syndrome, is a birth defect that results in a baby being born with more than the usual number of limbs, and successful surgeries to correct it are rare, according to one of the doctors cited by the Times of India newspaper.
“The embryo starts developing in the uterus into conjoined twins, but one twin degenerates completely because of some genetic change, leaving behind extra limbs,” Dr. Abhishek, one of the hospital’s consultant pediatric surgeons, explained.
The extra limbs were not the child’s only problem, as he also had three testes and small intestines that required surgical treatment. Doctors from various departments have also had to deal with other consequences stemming from the disease, including cardiovascular system problems, a crooked back, and an under-developed leg.
When Karam was just two weeks old, he was brought to Noida’s Jaypee Hospital from war-torn Iraq in critical condition by his father, Sarmad Ahmed, who is a doctor himself. Given all the risks and complexity, it was decided upon to conduct several surgeries.
“Our team of experts observed the baby, and after considering the risk factors, it was decided to conduct surgeries in multiple stages,” Dr. Gourav Rathore, a senior consultant at the hospital, said.
The first surgery to remove two limbs protruding from the stomach and the extra small intestine was performed in August.
In December, the second surgery dealt with a diagnosed heart defect and, last week, surgeons removed extra legs during the final operation, which took almost eight hours. The muscles from the removed limbs were used to restore the ones in the child’s under-developed left leg.
“Like any other normal kid, Karam also has two legs now,” said Dr. Rathore.
Although Karem now looks like an ordinary child and his family is set to return to Iraq on Monday, more surgeries are still to come. In six months, he will undergo an operation to treat another heart anomaly called Corrected Transposition of Great Arteries (CGTA).
Karam’s parents never lost hope that their baby could be cured, despite all the risks involved. The operation has set the couple back a hefty sum, reportedly several lakhs, with one lakh equal to 100,000 Indian rupees, or more than $1,500. His 32-year-old father had to take double shifts to cover the cost of providing a future for his first-born.
“We are now hopeful of giving him a normal life like any other child,” said his mother, Gufran, who wants Karam to become an engineer.