An Ivory Coast girl born with four legs and two spines underwent a rare operation in Chicago to fix the deformities.
The girl – whose name is only given as Dominique – is 10-months-old, and she is currently residing with a Chicago foster family while she recovers.
The family has posted numerous photos of the beautiful child on Facebook. Dominique has charmed people with her vibrant smile.
The child successfully underwent the complicated surgery on March 8.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Dominique Was Born With What Is Called a ‘Parasitic Twin’
A hospital video shows the child had four legs and two spines, a rare condition caused by a “parasitic twin” in Dominique’s body.
According to CNN, the condition is known as “a parasitic twin, where the underdeveloped twin formed incompletely and was entirely dependent on Dominique’s body. She was born with her parasitic twin’s waist, legs and feet growing out of her back.”
2. A Chicago Woman Saw a Photo of the Child on Facebook & Was Moved by Dominique’s Plight
A Chicago woman named Nancy Swabb saw a post on Facebook “about the need for a host family for a 9-month-old girl for two months while she received medical care in Park Ridge, Illinois. The post came from Children’s Medical Mission West, a nonprofit that helps transport children around the world to receive free medical care for rare conditions and issues,” CNN reported.
Swabb and her family stepped in to help the child, reported CNN, taking Dominique to hospital appointments and helping the girl with her recovery.
Swabb wrote on Facebook, “Dominique’s surgery took place on Wed, March 8 at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. She was discharged mid-afternoon on Monday, March 13. Dominique woke up the next morning to her first SNOW! (Ivory Coast temps have been in the mid 90s!) Glad we took a few photos because the snow melted quickly and now it’s officially spring!”
A YouCaring site was set up to raise money to help other children needing life-saving surgeries.
3. Dominique Is Recovering Well
According to Swabb’s posts on Facebook, Dominique is recovering well.
“First day post-surgery at home, Dominique spent the day in her pj’s, and why not? We took it easy and took cues from her whether she was in pain or not. The girl’s a trooper!” she wrote.
“I think we’ve used Tylenol twice in the week since she’s been home. We didn’t venture out much last week. By the weekend, though, we were ready for something new and exciting… food! Dominique enjoyed her first cereal, Baby Mum Mums (rice teething biscuits) and Super Puffs (grain cereal snacks)!”
4. Dominique Will Return to the Ivory Coast, Where Her Father Is a Teacher
When Dominique recovers enough to travel, she will be returned to her family in the Ivory Coast, where her father works as a teacher.
Wrote Swabb on Facebook, “Ten-month-old Dominique is the well-loved, chubby-cheeked baby in her family. We have learned that she has three older sisters! And we found out that her dad works as a primary school teacher. They live in the city of Abidjan, on the Atlantic coast, which is the economic capital of Cote d’ Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in West Africa. Almost 24 million people live in this former French colony.”
She added, “Every day of this journey I think about Dominique’s mama and daddy, both of whom love her so much. They connected with CMM to help their beautiful girl. They sent her to the States with escorts they do not know. They entrusted us, a family they do not know, to care for their daughter for two months in our home. And they have put faith and confidence in doctors they have never met to change their sweet girl’s life.”
5. It Took Five Doctors to Correct the Deformity
According to Reuters, Dominique “underwent a six-hour procedure involving five surgeons at the Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois.”
“A parasitic twin is an identical twin that fails to fully separate in development,” John R. Ruge, a pediatric neurosurgeon at the hospital, explained to Reuters. “In other words, not another independent twin, but a twin that was dependent on her body system, such that Dominique’s heart and lungs provided the nourishment.”