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June 26, 2008

Lakshmi Tatma in Rajasthan – Little “Goddess” Is A Little Girl Now

Lakshmi Tatma was very lucky to be born in Rajasthan, India. Had she been born in most places around the world, she may have been looked upon as a freak of nature. Instead, by being born in Rajasthan, she was revered as a goddess.

Lakshmi was born two years ago with eight limbs. The extra limbs were the results of a parasitic conjoined twin that did not fully develop. She was hailed as the reincarnation of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and embodiment. Her mother, Poonan says she had a dream that she should build a temple to the goddess before the little girl was born.

Lakshmi, the little girl was born during the Festival of Lakhshmi with eight limbs, just like the goddess. When doctors look at Lakshmi they see an incidence that only occurs in 3% of conjoined twins. While she has a full set of arms and legs she also has a second complete set from her twin that did not develop properly. Upon birth news of the little girl spread rapidly around the world. Villagers and people from all around went to see her. Some even offered to buy her as a circus act but someone else, Dr. Sharan Patil an orthopedic surgeon, also came to see Lakshmi.

Dr. Patil went to help the little girl who some thought was a goddess. He discovered that the top set of limbs, the ones that the doctor says are Lakshmi’s were working well. She had good motor control and would be able to do without the second set of limbs just fine. However, there was an infected sore on her backside that Dr. Patil would later realize was the neck of the parasitic twin. Dr. Patil pledged his own money to pay for all of the little girl’s medical expenses. At Sparsh hospital Dr. Patil and other doctors spent months performing all types of scans to ensure that it would be safe to remove the parasitic twin.

Lakshmi’s parents who believed that their little girl was a reincarnation of a goddess, had to agree to allow the surgeons to operate. The parents should be commended for listening to medical advice and allowing the surgeons to operate. They could have let religious beliefs stand in the way of their daughter’s chance to function much easier in the world but they didn’t. Instead they were brave and let the doctors work their magic.

In November of last year a team of 30 doctors worked to get rid of the parasitic twin. The doctors had to transplant a kidney from the other twin so that Laskshmi would have two functional ones. The surgeons worked to untangle organs and reconstruct the pelvic ring. The ordeal took 27 hours and these remarkable doctors were able to make it possible for the little girl to one day walk.

The miracle continues in the form of a little, smiling girl scouting around in a walker at a charity school in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. Her legs are usable and her smile irresistible.

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