Mona and Lisa, the conjoined twins abandoned by their parents and then successfully separated at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, were finally handed over to their parents on Thursday (picture on Page 16).
Initially, the girls’ parents — Subhankar Bhattacharya and Tapasi — had not shown much interest in taking the two babies home, said the hospital authorities. This had prompted some individuals as well as NGOs to approach the hospital with the intention of adopting Mona and Lisa. Later, after reading newspaper reports, the local panchayat at Raina, in Burdwan, where the Bhattacharyas live, urged them to go and bring the twins back.
The twins were born on June 18 at a private nursing home in Burdwan. They shared a common liver, part of the small intestine and the diaphragm. Their lower ribs and the sternum were conjoined. They were shifted to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital on July 18. They have been undergoing treatment there ever since.
Soon after they were born, the twins were abandoned by their parents. When N. N. Mukherjee, an assistant professor with the hospital and a resident of Burdwan, came to know about this, he decided to shift them to the central Calcutta medical unit.
A team of doctors, led by paediatric surgeon Ashok Kumar Roy and including Mukherjee, operated on the twins on November 1. The doctors said they had agreed to hand over the babies to the Bhattacharyas only after they gave them an assurance that they would take proper care of the two girls. “Both the girls are absolutely fit and totally out of danger. The lives of these two babies is especially valuable for us, as this kind of surgery has never been performed here before and the survival of both the twins in such cases is very rare,” said Roy and Mukherjee.
Even while handing them over to their parents, the doctors made it clear that they should contact the hospital authorities whenever necessary. The parents seemed overwhelmed by the love showered on their babies by the hospital. Subhankar, a priest, said: “We never thought Mona and Lisa would survive. We are grateful to the doctors and the entire hospital staff who have made this possible by providing the best possible treatment free.”