Mulago denies ignoring conjoined twins who needed emergency care

Soroti medics separate Conjoined Twins ignored at Mulago
Soroti Medics conducting an operation on the conjoined twins. COURTESY PHOTO

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Mulago National Referral Hospital has denied sending away a helpless grandfather of conjoined twins, after failing to separate a dead twin from another who was still alive.

The twins were born through Cesarean section more than a week ago at Amuria hospital. At birth, one of them was found dead while the other was alive, prompting medics to refer the children to Soroti Regional Referral Hospital for possible detachment. But the team in Soroti also referred the family to Mulago National Referral Hospital where they arrived on Monday last week.

But despite what was visibly a case of medical emergency, the family says they were ignored by the medics and Mulago, forcing them to return to Soroti Regional Referral Hospital on Wednesday 24th. This development came off as a surprise to many considering that Mulago is Uganda’s top referral facility that recently upgraded to a specialized facility that can conduct complicated tertiary procedures.

However, David Nuwamanya, the Mulago Hospital Principal Administrator said it’s not true that the baby was referred back to Soroti for separation. Instead, he say, that the caretaker disappeared before the case was handled.

While the hospital says the patient disappeared, Paul Oluo, the grandfather of the conjoined twins told URN on Tuesday that after three days of waiting and seeing the live baby’s health deteriorating and the dead one decomposing, the lower cadre health workers at the ward offered him 10,000 Shillings to use as transport to go back home.

He says the doctors said there’s nothing much they could do as an operation would be unsuccessful and gave him a referral note back to Soroti.

He says he couldn’t use public transport because the dead baby was decomposing.

Arua conjoined twins not separable - Mulago Doctors
Mulago National Referral Hospital

However, Soroti hospital later on Saturday saved the baby in an operation that lasted more than five hours. According to Dr Joseph Epodoi, the Consultant Surgeon who conducted the procedure, the two shared the liver and chest walls. The deceased twin had already started rotting by the time of the operation.

So far, he says the baby is steadily recovering and the a mother who had been in a critical condition since the caesarian section operation was also out of danger.

Meanwhile, experts say having conjoined twins is a rare condition characterized by a fusion of separable or an inseparable part or parts of the body of twins. Separation surgeries usually take more than 10-hours and the survival of the living twins depends on their shared systems.

Though rare, this was the third time since November for Mulago to have a case of conjoined twins. The first was a very complicated surgery that involved a multidisciplinary team of 20 specialists who separated an 11 months old set of twins. The twins that are still admitted to date shared a rectum, they didn’t have a separate vagina, shared a urethra and the spinal code was joined at the tail end.