A Colombian woman has given birth to a baby girl whose half-formed twin sister was still growing inside her tiny abdomen. The astonishing birth left doctors stunned.
The condition, known as 'fetus-in-fetu,' is an extremely rare occurrence. According to The Star Advertiser, it is thought to occur in about 1 in every 500,000 births. What sets this particular birth apart is that while most cases are discovered after birth, Colombian doctors caught this one via a 3D/4D ultrasound scan.
It was Dr. Miguel Parra-Saavedra, a high-risk pregnancy specialist in Baranquilla, Colombia, who picked up the condition. He first saw the mother, Monica Vega, during her 35th week of pregnancy, after her obstetrician suspected her unborn baby may have had a liver cyst.
Using a specialized doppler he was able to clearly see that the “cyst” was actually a fetus, supported by a separate umbilical cord connected to the larger twin’s intestine. Vega was shocked to learn the news.
"She was surprised and in disbelief," Parra-Saavedra said, according to the Daily Mail. "But after we showed them photos, videos, and scientific evidence they understood the phenomenon and allowed us to go ahead with the necessary steps [to handle it]."
Medical staff initially hoped to delay delivery to prevent risks associated with premature birth but within two weeks, a second scan showed that the under-formed fetus had grown by up to 30 percent and was threatening the health of its twin.
The decision was made to deliver via C-section at 37 weeks and, on Feb. 22 little Itzamara was welcomed into the world at La Merced clinic in Colombia. The following day doctors performed a key hole surgery to remove her twin, who died.
Both mom and baby have fully recovered and reportedly doing well. Parra-Saavedra said that Itzamara "has a little scar on her abdomen, but she is a normal baby now except that the whole world is talking about her," the Star Advertiser noted.
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