Monday, November 12, 2007

One Of G-d's Small Miracles, 11/12/07

From time to time, I'm going to try and post items that may not have much to do with the overall theme of this site...or then again, they may everything to do with it.

This weeks miracle concerns 2 year old Lakshmi Tatma, who was born severely disabled with eight limbs and was unable to walk or move normally. After an amazing 27 hour landmark surgery that involved cutting into her spinal cord, little Lakshmi is not only recovering rapidly, but her doctors say that she may surprise everyone and walk within two weeks.

Lakshmi appears to understand what has happened to her.

"Maybe it's my imagination, but I can see her. … She just gives one stare down her limbs and I can see she is saying, 'Where have they gone?'" said Sharan Patil, chief orthopedic surgeon and chairman of Sparsh Hospital, where the surgery was performed.

Patil led the team of 30 surgeons who removed a headless parasitic twin joined at the girl's pelvis. Parasitic twins are different from conjoined twins because they are not fully formed and depend upon the body functions of the complete twin.

The surgery involved cutting the spine to remove the extra limbs and bone grafts to close the wide gap between the pelvic bones. The surgeons were surprised at their ability to close the bone gap in one go..they thought it would have to be done over the course of several operations.

"She responds extremely well to her parents walking into the ICU. Anybody calls her name, she quickly turns around, which is heartening to see," he said. "She's moving her toes, moving her hands freely."

The little girl still faces months of rehab and several other procedures, but so far, her progress has amazed her doctors.

Sparsh Hospital itself it something of a miracle. the hospital is less than 2 years old and was specifically created to help the middle and lower classes of India to receive quality medical care. The hospital's foundation donated the cost of the surgery, estimated at $625,000.

Lakshmi Tatma's village is a relatively poor one, with just 150 homes and no electricity.Dr. Patil traveled there after being referred to Lakshmi by a social worker.

"Even though I'm a medical man and having seen the most grotesque things, it was quite shocking. I'd never seen anything in life like it before," he said. "The way she was moving around with that body, it was quite difficult and it was quite touching. Her older brother was running around and she was envying him."

"We have tried to touch their lives, but it's been reversed now. We have become much enriched by having Lakshmi in our hospital," said Patil. "This is probably the best thing that's happened in my career. I'm able to reach out and help somebody who needed it most and nothing could have pleased me more. It's a very nice feeling."

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