Surgeons at the National Institute of Health in Karachi, Pakistan have announced they successfully separated four extra limbs from Umar Farooq, a weeks-old infant who was born with six legs due to a rare congenital disorder, Pakistan news site Dawn.com reports.
"A team of five experienced doctors have successfully separated the extra legs and limbs from the baby [Thursday]. He is very much safe and secure," Jamal Raza, director of National Institute of the Child Health in Karachi, told Dawn.com. "The extra limbs and legs were the result of a genetic disease which would affect only one in a million or more babies."
Farooq was born two weeks ago in Sukkur, a city in the southern province of Sindh, and was born to a couple who are cousins, according to the New York Daily News. The infant was struggling to survive and rushed to the hospital in Karachi, the economic center of the province.
As doctors consulted foreign experts on how best to treat the baby, his father, X-ray technician Imran Shaikh, appealed to the government and various philanthropic organizations for funding to pay for the medical bills, the Pakistan Observer reported.
Fortunately, the governor of Sindh told doctors that the child's medical cost would be covered by the government.
"We are a poor family. I am thankful to the government for helping us treating my baby," Shaikh told the Observer after the hours-long surgery on Thursday.
Dr. Raza said the supernumerary limbs are the result of a condition called polymelia, which is caused when cells don't form properly during embryonic development. He explained that the baby started out developing as conjoined twins, but then one of the twins stopped growing and disintegrated except for its legs, which remained attached to the fetus.
"It was strange that an apparently abnormal baby with six legs was as normal as other children," Raza told the International Business Times. "Before surgeons could operate they said they had to work out which of the limbs belonged to the boy and which to his twin."
According to a 2010 study in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery, the estimated rate of conjoined twins is 1 per 1 million live births. More cases are seen in Africa and Asia, where families have less access to prenatal testing.
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