Surgeons were yesterday preparing to operate on a three-year-old boy to remove the body of a 'parasitic twin' growing inside his stomach. Isbac Pacunda was left with the rare condition after absorbing his would-be sibling inside the womb.
Doctors in Peru say the partially formed foetus has eyes, bones and hair on the cranium, but did not develop a brain, lungs, heart or intestines. It weighs a pound and a half (700 grams) and is nine inches (25 centimetres) long.
Dr Carlos Astocondor, of the medical team at Las Mercedes Hospital in the northern port of Chiclayo, says the condition occurs in about one of every 500,000 live births. Identical twins form when an egg splits in half after fertilisation. But conjoined twins or foetus-in-foetu siblings, as in the case of Isbac, occur when the egg fails to fully separate.
Dr Jonathan Fanaroff, a neonatologist at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, said some conjoined twins can survive as 'parasites', but not when one twin absorbs the other. He said that the operation to remove Isbac's twin was likely to be far easier than attempting to separate two living conjoined siblings.