Portuguese surgeon offers to help Syrian Siamese twins
A Portuguese surgeon has responded to an “international appeal” for help in separating a pair of Syrian Siamese twins who were born in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.
Surgeon António Gentil Martins replied to the international appeal, which in Portugal was carried by newspaper Público.
In response to the appeal, in an email sent to Público, Gentil Martins said “ having separated nine pairs of Siamese twins, experience that is certainly uncommon, I hereby offer up my team to do the separation [of the Syrian Siamese twins] (obviously at no personal cost).”
The twins were born in the war-ravaged Ghouta region of Syria but have been transferred to a hospital in the capital Damascus.
However, without the help of a highly-specialised team, conjoined babies Nawras and Moaz have poor changes of survival, which led Syrian doctors to launch the international appeal.
In comments to Público, Gentil Martins suggested that an international institution should “cover the costs, namely of travel and hospitalisation.”
He added that if anyone is interested in footing the bill for the operation they should get in touch with the Ministry of Health and also obtain agreement from the Dona Estefânia Hospital.
Alternatively, he suggests that the Champalimaud Foundation could also be contacted with a view to obtaining finance to cover the intervention.
“I await urgent contact given the importance and urgency of the decision”, he stressed.
Dr. Gentil Martins believes the ideal solution would be to find an entity that would cover the cost of bringing the children to Portugal to perform the surgery in this country.
“I and my team would not charge anything. It is also necessary to find a trustworthy anaesthetist, but I think there will be one who would also be available to do the job for free”, he added.
The 86-year-old surgeon believes that it will take “at least three weeks” to observe the children, perform the operation and provide post-surgery care.
He underlines that costs will be high, but it is important to “save these two lives.”
With regard to the degree of difficulty the surgery entails, Dr. Gentil Martins said only after seeing the infants can he give an exact assessment, but reiterated his experience in the field, having successfully separated nine pairs of Siamese twins.
The twins were born on 23 July at the Zahra Hospital in Ghouta, a suburb to the north of Damascus.
They are conjoined at the chest and share intestines in a protuberant abdomen but each have a normal heart.
In an open letter published by the Syrian American Medical Society, Doctor Mohamad Katoub explained that the unit is not equipped to deal with the complexity of the situation, and said that the twins are “running out of options.”