Multi-Limbed Girl's Surgeon Proud

"Baby Lakshmi" went into what would become 27-hour surgery in Bangalore, India a week ago with four arms, four legs, and multiple extra internal organs.

Now she appears well on her way to being a normal little girl, in no small part because of her surgeon, Dr. Sharan Patil.

In an exclusive interview, Patil told The Early Show's Dave Price he'd traveled in September to a remote village in northern India where, he'd been told, an extraordinary child had been born.

Still, says Patil, "In spite of all I'd heard, it was not something I expected to see."

When he first laid eyes on her, he says, doubt "absolutely" crept in about his ability to help. "By no means was I certain we could fix this," he recalled.

Lakshmi's father had already been told by other doctors that nothing could be done.

"They said," Patil told Price, "this is inoperable, and the child would lose the life if they attempted anything."

But Patil brought Lakshmi to Sparsh hospital in Bangalore. After she was scanned and examined, the doctors concluded there was hope.

"The first challenge was to identify the structures that belonged to Lakshmi and to separate them out from the structures that belonged to the parasitic twin (who had stopped developing in the womb, resulting in Lakshmi's deformities). ... We could not afford to make a mistake of interfering with the normal organs of Lakshmi."

One mistake, Patil says, and surgeons would have been "burning the bridges."

He led a massive team of doctors and nurses in 27 hours of surgery. For him, it was more than just an operation. It was "the most moving experience of my life, and I truly believe that, if we can achieve the well-being of Lakshmi and make her grow like a normal girl, with the prayers of everyone and the blessing from above, it will be the greatest satisfaction of my life."

It will be at least two months until Lakshmi can leave the hospital, Patil says.

But he adds that he's the one who's grateful, saying, "I think I'm very lucky, I'm very, very, very lucky to get this opportunity to touch the life of this little one."

And, he says, he'll have a special bond with Lakshmi from now on: "No question If she goes through a normal childhood and becomes a good citizen of this country, I will be very proud!"

A fund has been started to support Lakshmi and her family during her recuperation; for more information, go to www.sksn.org/lakshmiaftercarefund.