Doctors in Illinois have forever changed the life of a baby girl from Africa’s Ivory Coast. She was born with four legs and two spines — and would likely have faced paralysis without surgery.
Ten-month old Dominique now looks just like other babies — thanks to doctors at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., who performed a first-of-its-kind procedure.
A team of five specialists performed life-changing surgery to remove what’s called a parasitic twin.
“It was as if the twin from the waist down had been attached to the back of Dominique’s neck,” Dr. John Ruge said. “There was a pelvis, bladder, and functional legs that moved and feet coming out of the back of Dominique’s neck.”
Dominique’s heart and lungs provided all the support for both body structures. Before surgery, doctors made a 3-D model of her unique anatomy.
They say if left untreated, she would have likely become paralyzed.
“And finally the risk to her of great social ridicule, personal ridicule, and the high likelihood she would be a social outcast,” Dr. Ruge told CBS News.
Nancy Swabb and her family are fostering Dominique while she’s in the U.S. for treatment.
“If you can say love at first sight I think that’s true for us,” Nancy Swabb said. “We’ve thought every day, every moment, about her family waiting for her return, and just feel really honored to be able to be her family for a little while.”
Swabb says Dominique is about 2 pounds lighter now and can sit up well and reach for things.
Dominique is expected to go home to the Ivory Coast as soon as next month.