CHICAGO (NBC News) — Imagine having a baby with a significant birth defect and then having to send that child thousands of miles away for several months for a rare and risky surgery.
That’s what happened to a baby in Africa, born with a malformed conjoined twin, who found her way to a group of caring physicians in Chicago.
10-month-old Dominique’s radiant smile stole the heart of Nancy Swabb when Dominique came off a plane in February.
“Love at first sight, I think that’s true for us,” Swabb says.
Nancy and her family have hosted Dominique while she’s in Chicago so she could undergo an extremely rare surgery at Advocate Children’s Hospital.
Dominique was born in Ivory Coast with a parasitic twin sticking out of her back, and had two extra legs and two spines.
Without surgery her little heart and lungs would not be able to sustain the extra body long-term.
Pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. John Ruge said there was also concern the malformed twin would injure her spinal cord.
“We were very worried about her spinal cord because the two, the waist and the legs that were coming off her back, she was able to move,” Dr. Ruge says.
The surgery on March 8 lasted six hours with a team of about 50 medical personnel.
Dominique will be reunited with her parents and siblings in Africa within a few weeks.
An Ohio-based non-profit called “Children’s Medical Mission West” arranged for Dominique’s medical care.
Cases like Dominique’s are so rare that they’re often named after each individual patient, so this one will be simply “Dominique in Chicago.”
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