Born with Two Heads

On March 31st 2004 in Aghur, Egypt a young woman, Naglaa Mohammed Yehiya, is rushed to hospital in labour six weeks early. She is expecting to give birth to twins, confirmed in earlier scans. The first twin is born normally and is quite healthy. The second twin is causing problems. After several hours the hospital need to conduct an emergency caesarean section to deliver the second twin – born with two heads.

Craniopagus Parasiticus

Hospital staff are amazed at what they see. The baby has two heads!

Born Two Heads Craniopagus Parasiticus Manar Maged
Born Two Heads

In a condition known as Craniopagus Parasiticus a second parasitic head has developed attached to the host head. This is an extremely rare condition and only about 10 cases have ever been recorded. Of these, only three have been born alive.

The condition comes about when the egg splits to form identical twins. This would normally occur at 10 weeks. However with Naglaa it didn’t occur until 13 weeks resulting in conjoined twins. Damage with the blood supply in the second twin made it draw blood from the join at the skull forming a parasitic connection. Manar’s little heart could not pump enough blood to support two bodies, so the second body could not develop. The second skull and brain were able to develop more or less normally.

The parasitic head is very much alive and displays reflexive behaviour.

Scan Skulls Two Heads Craniopagus Parasiticus Manar Maged
Scan showing how the Skulls are joined

A Scan shows how the skulls are joined, the brains are fused together and share a single blood supply. Manar Maged is not expected to live.

However, after 10 months Manar Maged has defied her doctor’s prognosis. She is alive although she has suffered 5 heart failures, developed convulsions, and had 2 chest infections.

The parasitic head has started to show signs of gangrene, and this is being circulated to Manar’s body. It has become clear that the only hope of saving Manar is to separate her from her twin.

Professor Dr Mohammed Lotfy

Egypt is a Muslim country, so any operation is not only a medical question, but a moral and ethical one too. Professor Dr Mohammed Lotfy has agreed to carry out the operation, but he consults Sheikh Dr Ali Gomaa, The Grand Mufti of the Egyptian Republic for religious and ethical guidance.

This operation has never been carried out successfully before and carries a very high risk. The Grand Mufti gives his blessing to the operation, so surgery is scheduled for February 18 2005.

The World’s media descend on Benha Children’s Hospital as soon as word gets out. The hospital agree to having a video link installed in the operating theatre.

Excised Head Craniopagus Parasiticus Manar Maged
Excised Parasitic Head

After 13 hours of painstaking surgery and 8 full blood transfusions, the parasitic head is successfully removed. Manar is alive but extremely critical. She has ten intravenous lines in and is kept sedated in a coma for five days to stop her convulsing.

By the 28th May 2005 Manar Maged is well enough to go home for the first time in her young life. She needs constant care and careful medication to control her temperature and convulsions. Six weeks later Manar Maged takes a turn for the worse and begins having fits. Naglaa takes her back to Cairo to see Professor Lotfy who is concerned with what he sees.

A scan reveals that the valve intended to drain the brain cavity has become blocked resulting in a build up of fluid. A condition known as hydrocephalus. This is quite common after brain surgery, but it can lead to brain damage.

Professor Lotfy has the drain valve replaced immediately but fears that irrevocable damage may already have taken place. It is possible that Manar will never fully recover.

Sadly, on Mar 25th 2006, just before her second birthday, Manar Maged died after suffering a brain infection.

External Links

Two Heads, Craniopagus Parasiticus – Wikipedia Page

Born with Two Heads | Craniopagus Parasiticus | Manar Maged

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