WorldCF Attempts to Help Pakistani Conjoined Twins
It was the kind of email our foundation often receives: "Dear Sir or Madam," it began. "I am writing to you regarding two conjoined twin baby girls located in Charsadda, Pakistan. . . . They are joined at the top of their skulls and there is no sufficient medical capability nor capacity in Pakistan to perform a surgery aiming to separate the two. . . . I was truly very moved by their story and started looking into and reading about similar stories, where families with little resources have been helped by an international organization or an institution such as yourselves. . . . I have no idea how you normally review or even consider such cases. So please forgive me for reaching out in this way. . . . Also, I should mention that I am just an ordinary Danish woman from Copenhagen, Denmark, who saw this news and couldn't help but wonder how I could maybe do something more than donating some money to help these two girls far, far away from where I live myself."
Immediately after receiving this message from Sobia Akram--who emigrated from Pakistan to Denmark with her parents many years ago and who still speaks Urdu--the foundation set in motion a several-continent effort to determine whether the twin girls Safa and Marwa can be safely and successfully separated. We are being assisted by neurosurgeon Dr. Shahib Ayub at the Northwest General Hospital and Research Centre in Peshawar, who has closely consulted with the girls' family since they were born, by Dr. Salyer and WorldCF medical director Dr. Derek Bruce, former board member Andy Christensen and the terrific folks at suburban Denver's 3D Systems, who will create a highly accurate three-dimensional model that will help us determine how distinct the two girls' brains are, and whether their brains share much of the venous system that supplies them with blood.
Meantime, Dr. Salyer and others are researching the best possible location and team for the separation surgery--should it prove possible. We are hopeful, of course, but can't let our optimism get in the way of careful and very complex surgical analysis.
Back in 2003, Dr. Salyer led a WorldCF team of more than fifty medical professionals at Medical City in Dallas in the 30-hour separation surgery of Egyptian twin boys Ahmed and Mohamed, one that ultimately was stunningly successful, making the boys international media stars in the process.
Here at the WorldCF, we love happy endings, and the boys ultimately had a second surgery to replace missing skull bone before they returned home to Cairo. They are teenagers now and we are thrilled that they are living the normal lives that once were unimaginable for them. It's wonderful to imagine that a similar future might await the Pakistani girls, and please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. We will share much more of their story in our next newsletter.