Kalia, the 5-year-old tribal boy from Odisha’s Kandhamal district who was separated from his conjoined twin Jaga in a series of operations in August-October 2017 in India’s first Craniopagus surgery passed away at a government hospital in Cuttack on Wednesday evening.
Kalia, fused at the head with his twin Jaga since birth in 2015, was separated from his sibling by a team of doctors at AIIMS New Delhi in India’s first Craniopagus surgery in the course of 45 hours of surgery conducted over two months. The twins, who were then 27-months-old, were first operated on August 28, 2017 by a team of 20 specialists and their heads were finally separated in another operation in October. While there was considerable improvement in the health condition of Jaga, Kalia’s recovery was comparatively slower as doctors said it would take him six more months to recover fully.
After the post-operative rehabilitation and care in AIIMS New Delhi for almost 2 years, the twins returned to Odisha in September last year, but did not go back to their home in Kandhamal and remained at SCB Medical College under the supervision of a team of doctors. The parents of the kids were, however, apprehensive of lack of proper care in Odisha, but were convinced by the AIIMS doctors that there would be no issues. Their treatment was being done under a protocol developed by AIIMS Delhi.
SCB doctors said Kalia had no issues till his condition deteriorated last week. “Five days ago, Kalia’s condition suddenly turned critical. Today, he developed septicemia and passed away,” said Dr Bhubanananda Maharana, emergency officer of the SCB Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack.
The conjoined twins born to auto rickshaw driver Bhuyan Kanhar and his wife Pushpanjali Kanhar in Milipada in Kandhamal district came to notice in July 2017 after the parents with the help of an NGO tried to seek treatment. The news caught the attention of the media and the Odisha government took full responsibility of the treatment and sanctioned Rs 1 crore. After due consultation, the twins were sent to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Craniopagus twins happen once in 3 million births, and 50% of those affected die within 24 hours. Half of such kids die either at birth or within 24 hours. They shared blood vessels and brain tissues, a very rare condition. In India, no twins fused at the head had been separated till Jaga and Kalia were separated.