Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Girl with two faces

two facesThe family of an Indian girl born with two faces, who has been venerated as a "gift from God" by local villagers, will not consult doctors to see if their daughter needs to receive treatment or corrective surgery.

The baby, who is yet to be named, was born to a labourer, Vinod Kumar, and his wife, Sushma, nearly four weeks ago in a village 35 miles outside Delhi. Since her arrival, the family home has drawn hundreds of visitors. "People have come in trucks and have been queuing at our doorstep," said the Mr Kumar, 24.

The reason for the crowds is the child's appearance: she has two pairs of eyes, two noses and two lips but only one pair of ears.

The child's 19-year-old mother, says that she has "accepted the way she is and so will the rest of the world. Why should [I regret], after all God formed her features and it is he who decided how she should be."

The family, who are poor and largely illiterate, do not believe modern science can help their child and are already building a small temple to the girl in the village.

Kumar said that when his daughter was born, hospital staff told the family that everything was normal. "So where's the need to get medical help? She's feeds through one mouth and sucks her thumb with the other. She's just a baby."

Doctors predict a difficult life ahead for the girl, who was born without any pre-natal care. They said it was an extremely rare case, with the baby having two skulls joined together, and that separating them was out of the question.

"The chances of survival are not very bright in such cases," Mukul Verma, a neurologist at the Apollo hospital, Delhi. "It is a developmental defect where two different things have been partially formed. It would require plastic surgery to try and remove one face. But then that all depends on how the brain is placed, as also the food and windpipes."


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