Two-year-old Lakshmi, who underwent a rare, marathon surgery this week to have her parasitic conjoined twin separated, responded to her mother's touch positively and spent two hours with her at a super-specialty hospital in Bangalore.
In a medical bulletin on the child's condition on the fourth day after the operation, hospital chairman and chief orthopaedic surgeon Sharan Patil said Lakshmi was able to tolerate oral liquid feeds, given for the first time following the surgery on Wednesday.
"Mother and daughter - Lakshmi and Poonam - spent a good two hours together. Lakshmi also responded to her mother's touch positively. Her clinical and bio-chemical parameters continue to be within the normal limits," Patil said.
Affirming that Lakshmi made significant progress over the last 24 hours, Patil said she would continue to be in the intensive care unit (ICU) for a couple of days and under close observation.
Earlier in the day, Lakshmi was able to recognise her father Shambhu, mother and the doctors attending on her, indicating her sensory organs were functioning normally.
"She was able to recognise her parents when they were allowed to meet her in the ICU. She also waved to the doctors," chief anaesthetist Yohannan John told IANS.
Lakshmi also had good sleep after being taken off the ventilator on Friday and woke up early on Saturday, trying to move her arms and stretch her legs slowly.
"Though she is on a liquid diet and is being fed intravenously, she is able to sip water orally. Her body is also responding to the drugs being administered to stabilise her condition and prevent any infection," John said.
Lakshmi was born with a parasitic conjoined twin fused together at the pelvis and was admitted in Bangalore on October 3 after the parents, who are poor farmers from a north Bihar village, were unable to get her treated in New Delhi due to financial constraints. The doctors there said they could not treat her.
Taking up the rare case as a challenge to paediatric surgery and medicine, Patil and his 30-member medico team offered to treat Lakshmi free. The 27-hour procedure would have otherwise cost about Rs 3 million.
As Lakshmi cried late on Friday for the first time after the surgery when her mother was leaving the ICU, the doctors on duty heaved a sigh of relief - her wailing meant her sensory coordination was normal.
"Every movement or gesture of hers is a sign of progress for us. She is able to remain awake longer and is conscious of things in the ICU. She also responds with facial expressions to nurses," John said.
She had a normal motion through her repositioned excretory opening. She is also being injected with painkillers for relief from the painful surgery.
"We intend to keep her in the ICU for another couple of days to heal her wounds and to help her recover fully from the marathon surgery she underwent courageously. She is cooperating with the nurses and support staff when her body below the waist is dressed and her clothes are changed," John said.
For the parents, it was a Diwali with a difference on Friday.
Though Lakshmi was born on Diwali in October 2005, her parents celebrated this year's festival of lights at the hospital to mark the successful operation with prayers for her speedy recovery.
"We are relieved and thankful to the doctors for giving a new life to our Lakshmi. Her mother is happy and hopeful that she will be able to walk and live a normal life," Shambhu told reporters at the hospital.
According to Patil, Lakshmi will be put on a rehab and physiotherapy programme after she is shifted out of ICU next week.