Liberia: Siamese Twins, Joined at Chest, Did Not Survive

Liberia’s first record Siamese twins in nearly 8 years had died two after their birth at the Tellewoyan Hospital in Voinjama, Lofa County. 

The boys, born on ​June 11, were joined at the chest — reducing their chance of survival greatly. They died on June 13.  About 75 percent of Siamese twins are joined at least partially in the chest and share organs. About 23 percent are connected at the lower torso, sharing hips, legs or genitals. Success rates for separation vary depending on the connection.

Siamese twins are two babies physically connected to each other. They develop when an early embryo only partially separates to form two individuals. Although two fetuses will develop from this embryo, they will remain physically connected — most often at the chest, abdomen, or pelvis.

However, their birth makes them the country's first conjoined twin in nearly 8 years.  The last recorded birth of such time was in 2015 at the Joana Maternity Clinic situated on Center Street, South Beach in Monrovia. The twins however did not live for a day.

Before then, a lady named Anna Cole gave birth to two daughters in 2000 in a hut in Liberia. They were joined at the lower tips of their vertebrae and at the buttocks, and villagers called them evil spirits, said her husband, Emmanuel. Born June 4 in a hut, the sisters were joined at the bottom of the spine.

Both girls, however, survived after they were sent to the US by former Liberian President Charles Taylor for surgery at the Nationwide Children's Hospital (then Columbus Children's Hospital). It took a 40-member surgical team at the hospital to separate the twins during an eight-hour operation when they were 3 months old. 

Since then, doctors have performed follow-up operations and have seen the girls for regular medical appointments.

Mary and Decontee Cole, 2010, celebrated their 10 years of separation. 

The mother of the deceased conjoined twins was a 35-year-old woman identified as Madusu Sheriff, who gave birth to them without any form of medical complications. She had previously given birth to three boys with no deformity and was certain that her fourth could have survived.

“This is the fourth delivery that I have experienced without complication, but I am very sure that my boys will survive,” Mrs. Sheriff said after the birth of her twins in Voinjama.

Meanwhile, ​the government has received with deep sadness news of the passing of the siamese twins​​ and promised to reach out to the mother to ensure she gets the care and support she needs.

Before their death, President George M. Weah had instructed Health Minister Wilhelmina Jallah to ensure they and their mother were brought to Monrovia in order to make a determination on the next course of action. 

“The health authorities exerted every effort to take care of the newborns before they unfortunately passed,” a government release said. “Giving birth to conjoined twins is a rare medical phenomenon, with a very low survival rate. The Liberian government was committed to amassing the resources necessary, as well as stakeholders in the sector, both local and international, to carry out the needed procedure that would have ensured the survival of the twins.”