Conjoined twins Riddhi and Siddhi, who were surgically separated at BJ Wadia hospital in Parel in 2014, continue to live in the hospital. Members of the hospital staff told HT that the twins’ parents have not visited the hospital for more than a year, making them suspect that the family has abandoned the children.
The girls were brought to the hospital from their village in Raigad district in May 2013 by social workers from Pratham, a not-for-profit group. The girls were joined at the abdomen in such a manner that that they formed a ‘plus’ sign, said doctors. A life-saving procedure immediately after they were admitted surgically created a separate rectal opening for passing stool as one of them started developing sepsis — a potentially fatal condition resulting from the collection of faecal matter in the body.
After their condition improved, doctors performed an endoscopy to find out if the twins shared internal organs. They found that the two girls shared a common bladder, which was then divided during the separation surgery in January 2014. In June 2014, Riddhi underwent another operation to reconstruct a deformity in her pelvis.
The twins, who will turn three in May, are now in the paediatric ward of the hospital, and their care-taker Shobha Gaikar is their “mummy”. Gaikar takes care of them and takes them for walks in the adjoining terrace. The nurses and ward boys are their ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’. A side room next to the ward has two white cradles where the twins sleep.
Dr Ashwini Jogade, medical superintendent of the hospital, has several pictures of the girls on her cell phone. In one of the photos, Riddhi is sitting on a bike with a security guard. “They go out in the campus. They have not been outside the hospital though,” said Dr Jogade.
The girls may have to undergo another surgery to correct bends in their legs. They are currently undergoing physiotherapy and speech-therapy. “They can walk without support. We are still observing them and a decision on any further surgeries will be taken within the next few months,” said Dr Minnie Bodhanwal, CEO of the hospital.
“The family already has two girls and they were keen to have a male child. Maybe the family’s economic condition is such that it cannot take care of the girls,” she added.
Workers from Pratham have been trying to get in touch with Arun and Shalu Pawar, the parents. Around six months ago, Subhash Rajan from Pratham visited their village. “We learnt that they have shifted to a neighbouring village. We went there and told them about the girls. They promised to visit them but they did not,” said Rajan, adding that they will rehabilitate the girls once they are medically all right.
HT could not reach the parents for a comment. Sources at the hospital said that after reports about the two developed, many people had offered to adopt them.