Photo Credit: Western Cape Government Health

Two full, specialised surgical teams helped successfully separate twins joined at the head; mom was overwhelmed with joy to be able to hold both her babies, one in each arm.


Cape Town, South Africa (11 May 2021) – The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital (RCWMCH) in Cape Town, South Africa, successfully separated Ntombikayise Tyhalisi’s twins. The twins were joined at the head and underwent surgery in February.

The Western Cape Department of Health shared the happy news earlier today. Both Siphosethu and Amahle have recovered well since their surgery.

The twins were born in the Eastern Cape and taken to the Western Cape’s Red Cross Children’s Hospital at only 4 days old. Their cases were assessed, and once a plan was in place, a multi-disciplinary team was established. Each twin was assigned a team which comprised of an anaesthetist, neurosurgeon, plastic surgeon, and nurses.

Professor Tony Figaji, head of paediatric neurosurgery at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, explains that the twins were joined at the head in what is medically referred to as craniopagus twinning.

“It’s the rarest form of conjoined twinning,” Prof Figaji explains. Craniopagus twins occur approximately once in every 2.5 million live births worldwide.

“We were fortunate in this case that the connection did not involve any shared brain tissue and didn’t involve major [blood] vessels going from one twin to the other,” says Prof Figaji.

The teams prepared themselves for a marathon surgery, expecting the operation to take around 6 hours. Thankfully, everything was much smoother than expected.

“We were prepared for a six hour, at least, surgery. On this occasion the surgery lasted all of one and a half hours. This is a huge plus for the recovery of the twins.” – Prof Saleigh Adams, head of plastic surgery at RCMWCH

“We’re proud of the entire multidisciplinary team involved in helping these twin patients: from the birthing team in the Eastern Cape and the referring clinicians, to our staff in the wards and theatre and then to those involved with the post-surgery care. A huge thank you to everyone,” says Dr Anita Parbhoo, acting CEO for RCWMCH.

The focus now turns to ensuring the healthy healing of the surgical areas. Both patients and mom are doing well following the surgery and continue to receive follow up care.

Mom has been in awe of the medical care provided to her babies.

“I am overjoyed! I wasn’t expecting to leave here holding my children one in each arm,” says Ntombikayise Tyhalisi 

Photo Credit: Western Cape Government Health

Sources: Western Cape Government Health
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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