Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter
CHICAGO (CBSMiami) – Surgeons in Illinois have successfully operated on a baby from Africa who was born with two spines and an extra set of legs protruding from her neck.
The 10-month-old girl from West Africa underwent the unique surgery earlier this month at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge after she was born with four legs and two spines.
Dominique was born in the Ivory Coast with a parasitic conjoined twin – meaning part of her not-fully-developed twin’s body was protruding from Dominique’s neck and back.
“It was like having a half-person attached to your upper spinal cord in the back of your neck,” said Dr. Frank Vicari, a pediatric plastic surgeon for Advocate Health Care who was part of the team that removed the extra legs two weeks ago.
The second spine was left inside Dominique’s body.
A team of more than 50 medical professionals took part in the operation on March 8. Doctors said Dominique is expected to live a normal life after the successful surgery.
“It’s truly amazing. I mean, you can say the words, but until you see it and try to figure out what in the heck is going on, it’s pretty impressive,” Vicari said. “It’s very exciting. Treating kids, these are the kinds of things you live for in a sense.”
Vicari said a 3-D model of Dominique was developed so medical experts could choreograph the steps that would be taken during the operation.
Nancy Swabb has been acting as Dominique’s “host mom” until the infant returns to Africa next month when she’s expected to be medically cleared.
“She is adorable and bubbly, and very receptive to affection and love and we are just completely smitten by her,” Swabb said.
Swabb said her family picked up Dominique at O’Hare International Airport on Feb. 5, and once she posted on Facebook that her family was having another baby in the house if only temporarily, neighbors came through with donations of diapers, formula, a stroller, and more.
She and her husband, Tim, have two daughters of their own: 9-year old Mara and 15-year old Lena.
Dominique came home from the hospital five days after the extra limbs were removed.
“She’s sitting up, and playing with my kids, like nothing’s ever happened. She’s amazing,” Swabb said.
The Swabb family said they hope to be able to stay connected with Dominique’s family on social media to see her grow up.
“Dominique has such a special part in our hearts. I mean, she’s really an amazing baby, and has so touched us beyond words,” Swabb said.