I can’t imagine recovering from a C-section, a major surgery, only to learn that my day-old infant would need to go under the knife to have practically the same operation.
But that’s exactly what happened to Monica Vega and her daughter, Itzamara, after her birth.
Itzamara suffered from what’s known as fetus-in-fetu, which happens when twins divide later than normal, causing one to be absorbed by the other. And though most conditions aren’t diagnosed until after birth, Ms. Vega and her doctor, Dr. Miguel Parra-Saavedra, were prepared in this case.
He’s a high-risk pregnancy expert in Columbia, and he saw on a 35-week ultrasound that there were two umbilical cords connected to the fetus – one from her to her mother, and one that went from her intestine to a mass in her own tiny abdomen. Her twin.
Itzamara was delivered via C-section at 37 weeks due to the fear that the absorbed twin could continue to grow and damage her organs.
Then, just 24 hours after entering the world, Itzamara had laparoscopic surgery to remove her twin.
The fetus they removed was never viable, as it was getting nutrients only from Itzamara’s heart and had formed no brain or heart of its own.
As for Itzmara, she’s doing well, says Dr. Parra-Saavedra.
“She has a little scar on her abdomen, but she is a normal baby now except that the whole world is talking about her.”
Modern medicine continues to marvel at little survivors like Itzamara, but we’re glad that she is safe and ready, now, to face the challenges of life.
Godspeed, little one.