A Bangladeshi mother has given birth to a pair of conjoined twins with two heads but one body. The “miracle baby” with two heads who was born late on Wednesday, November 11 in Dhaka, Bangladesh by Caesarean section is currently receiving post-natal care at the government hospital in Dhaka.
According to the Daily Mail, Abu Kawsar, doctor at the Standard Hospital of Total Healthcare where the baby was born, confirmed that tests showed the baby has only one set of vital body organs but two heads.
He said, “Except for having two heads, the newborn has the rest of her organs and limbs like a normal newborn.”
The baby’s condition could thus be an example of the very rare congenital condition called dicephalic parapagus, where the baby is born with two heads but only one body.
Although, people often think of a baby with the condition as a single person with two heads, the baby is actually a set of twins who share the same body and vital organs.
Bangladeshi health authorities said the baby born in the Brahmanbaria district of east-central Bangladesh, about 120 kilometers east of the capital city of Dhaka, but was later transferred to the government hospital in Dhaka where she is being treated for breathing problems, according to health authorities.
The Daily Mail reports that the father of the baby, Mia Jamal, a farm laborer, told AFP that he was “awestruck” when he saw the baby.
“She has two fully developed heads. She is eating with two mouths and breathing with two noses,” he said. “Still, I thank Allah that she and the mother are now OK.”
“She has two fully developed heads. She is eating with two mouths and breathing with two noses.”
Thousands of people from surrounding towns and villages gathered outside the hospital in Brahmanbaria where the baby was born. More people came as news spread that a “miracle baby” had been born in the district.
Babies born with congenital conditions involving extra limbs or head are often considered incarnations of the divine in Bangladesh and neighboring India, especially among the Hindu populations.
Kawsar, owner of the hospital where the baby was born, expressed relief after she was transferred to the general hospital in Dhaka.
“The entire town poured into the clinic,” he said. “There were thousands of people with some of them coming from the nearby villages. It’s good that the baby has been shifted to Dhaka. Otherwise, it would have been difficult for us to control the crowd.”
The baby’s father, Mia Jamal, a poor farm laborer, has expressed fears about the cost of medical care for the baby.
“I feel sad for her. She has been born to a poor man,” he said. “I don’t have money to even properly treat her mother.”
Generally, conjoined twins are formed when a fertilized egg that was going to split and form a set of identical twins fails to divide fully. Genuine cases of dicephalic parapagus occur in just 1 in 50,000-100,000 births, but 60 percent of cases are stillborn or die soon after birth, the Journal of Family and Reproductive Health reports.
The incidence of birth of conjoined twins is highest in Southwest Asia and Africa. The babies are born unexpectedly to Asian and African parents who were too poor to have an ultrasound done during pregnancy.
A set of conjoined twins with one body but two heads were born in India last year. But they died after 20 days due to complications related to their condition. Another baby with two heads, called Kiron, was born to a Bangladeshi mother in 2008. The baby also died soon after birth.
A few cases have been reported in Western countries, such as the Joshua and Jayden, born to Lisa Chamberlain in Portsmouth, U.K., in July 2009. Joshua was stillborn and his brother Jayden died minutes after birth.
Abigail and Brittany Hensel are the best known dicephalic paragus twins in the U.S. Their media appearances, including on Oprah Winfrey Show, transformed them into celebrities (see video below).
If the set of Bangladeshi twins survive they would have to remain joined together, sharing the same body, because it is physically impossible to separate dicephalic paragus conjoined twins.
[Photo by Barcroft/Getty Images]