Nvou Davou went into labour around 3pm on Thursday last week, but endured the pain until 2am when her husband, Davou, called his sister in-law to assist with the child birth. It was prolonged labour, and for fear of possible complications, Davou decided to take her to hospital an hour later. It was not long after that a baby’s head popped out. When the babies emerged early Friday, all Nvou knew was that the delivery ended the 13-hour pain. But a few minutes later, she noticed there was something wrong with her babies. The twins were joined at their buttocks. Each had two upper limbs and the right and left leg of each were merged, giving them three instead of four lower limbs. Only one survived the delivery. “I looked at them and felt the pain, it was like something had pieced my soul. I soon came to the realisation that their condition was the reason I had a very complicated pregnancy,” she said.
The 40 year old mother of six who has relocated from her husband’s home in Sot-Shagul village in Vom, Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State was at her parents’ home in Chugwi- Dandyes, another village in Vom, when our correspondent visited. Walking slowly and writhing in pain, Nvou said she had a complicated pregnancy from inception and considered antenatal a luxury her family could not afford.
The story of her ‘strange’ delivery spread around the village and at the time of the visit, the women, including the elderly, surrounded her, curiously glancing at a picture of the strange twins. Medically, conjoined twins are identical twins who are joined at some regions of their bodies. According to Consultant Obstetric/Gynaecologist, Dr. Maimuna Hassan, the many different types of conjoined twins are classified by the area of attachment. Looking at a picture of Nvou’s twins, Dr. Hassan said the twins appeared to have been joined at the buttocks, classifying their condition as pygopagus.
Dr. Hassan said generally, the actual cause of conjoined twins was not exactly known, but that the condition is not hereditary and arises from a single zygote that fails to undergo complete separation after fertilization. Nvou knew from the onset that her pregnancy was not normal. “While I was pregnant, I got bloated after every meal and I would purge for hours. There was no money to go to hospital because my husband lost his palm slippers shop including his generator and filing machines to arsonists in December last year,” she said.
Even when her pregnancy came to term, Nvou said she couldn’t afford to skip any work on her potatoe and maize farm which became the family’s only source of financial sustenance. Her husband, Davou Ishaku, 48, who used to make palm slippers, said his wife’s complicated pregnancy had earlier been diagnosed as appendicitis and later a womb tumour by rookies. He said at the early stage of the pregnancy, his wife complained of constant abdominal pain, so he took her to a clinic for an ultra scan. “We didn’t know she was pregnant then and after the scan, we were told she suffered from appendicitis. We went to a relative who does such surgeries but when he asked her where the pain was coming from, she pointed at the wrong side.
He told us it couldn’t have been appendicitis and asked us to go for another scan.” But with a second scan, Davou said it was discovered that Nvou was pregnant with a single foetus but she was also diagnosed with a womb tumour which the health provider advised would trigger an abortion should there be any attempt to remove it at that time. “He gave her some drugs pending when she gives birth and asked that we return for the surgery. But now that this has happened, I think it was the other baby’s head that he saw and thought it was a tumour,” said Davou.
Had Nvou gone for antenatal care, Dr. Hassan said, her condition would most likely have been detected by an experienced synographer and her delivery could have been well planned. “The prolonged labour alone could have resulted in the children dying immediately after birth. For conjoined twins, their delivery is done through caesarean section which would have improved their chances of survival,” he said. Despite a difficult delivery, Nvou waited eight hours before taking her surviving child to hospital. The couple claimed the delay followed their unsuccessful attempt to reach out for help at the Jos South Local Government Council.
By noon on Friday, they got a vehicle that took them to Vom Christian Hospital where they were immediately referred to the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH). “We arrived JUTH around 4pm and two hours later, the surviving baby died.” Nvou said. But before the baby died, Davou said he had been slammed with a bill of over N6, 000 to purchase surgical items. “They told me the surviving child would be put on oxygen which would cost me N2, 000 and that they would need to go into surgery to sever the dead child and stabilize the surviving one, but I told them that I didn’t have any money.”
Not long after doctors went into the theatre, the surviving twin also gave up. “I had gone to get food for my wife and while she was eating they came to tell me that they had started the surgery when the baby died,” said Davou. But the bitter-sweet experience had come with a viable lesson as the couple said they are now open to any family planning procedure. Nvou who in 2015 delivered a set of premature twins that later died, said; “I think I have enough children.
My husband agrees that it is time to stop,” she said, noting that she hopes to return to the hospital for counselling as soon as she becomes strong. Until then, top on her husband’s mind is how to get medical help for Nvou who sits with a swollen feet and a hard bulge in her abdomen which she says gives her a lot of discomfort.