Twenty-seven year old Evelyn Omodho gave birth to a set of twin boys at the Nakuru annex Hospital on the 5th of May. The news of the amazing twins transfixed the country as these were no ordinary twins.
Evelyn’s twins were born with two heads but shared a body. Neither child would survive after surgery and so the doctors decided not to separate them. They died 5 days later at the Kenyatta National hospital.
Conjoined twins are incompletely separated identical twins. Identical twins occur when there is a fertilized egg that becomes a single embryo and then there is a division of the early embryo into two, leading to two separate identical twins. With conjoined twins there is incomplete separation of the two identical twins. With conjoined twins, the identical twins are joined by part of the anatomy and share one or more organs. It is more common for conjoined twins to be girls than boys. Researchers do not have concrete evidence of environmental or genetic factors that result to conjoined twins.
Conjoined twins are a rare occurrence globally. Conjoined twins occur in 1 out of every 50,000 pregnancies. Most conjoined twins pregnancies result in miscarriages and still births resulting in 1 out of every 200,000 live births being conjoined twins. Of those born alive, a third die on their birthday, with another 20 percent dying a day after being born.
However this phenomenon has been with humanity for a long time. In the Anatolian Civilisation Museum in Turkey is a 17cm statue dating back to 6 BC of a conjoined pair called ‘the double goddess’. The most celebrated pair of conjoined twins were Chang and Eng Bunker born in Siam in 1811. They were taken to the United States by a circus company and exhibited as the curious ‘Siamese twins’. They married sisters, had 2 separate homes, spending 3 days a week alternatively in their houses and fathering 22 children between them. They lived to be 63 years old.Another less known set of conjoined twins are the Blazek sister of Bohemia who lived from 1878 to 1922. They were joined at the pelvis and are the only known set of conjoined twins who conceived and delivered a normal baby boy.
Conjoined twins are classified according to the most prominent site of union for example those with joined hears are cephalopagus twins, those joined in the his Ischiopagus etc
In the middle of media hype and sensational stories, a small detail is bound to slip our minds. That the family of Evelyn is mourning the loss of their sons. In the past conjoined twins were exploited and used to entertain people. It is important that the experience of Evelyn is a learning one and not voyeuristic.