Conjoined Twins, Broken Promises: Veena and Vani’s Painful Story
Veena and Vani’s Fate Hangs in The Balance
This is an that issue has been hanging fire for almost 13 years now, for a number of reasons, none good enough. The fate of conjoined twins, Veena and Vani, in Hyderabad still remains uncertain in spite of the attention the case has received.
The 13-year-old twins, born in Telangana’s Nalgonda district, have been fused since birth.
The first stage of the separation surgery was performed in December 2004 by Dr Yarlagadda Nayudamma in Guntur General Hospital. Veena and Vani have been at the center of much media hype since then. Their first surgery was reported extensively, and a number of politicians and bureaucrats visited the hospital.
After the surgery, the parents had abandoned the twins, citing poverty and lack of money to fund their education and other needs. However, the parents have not ruled out taking them back after the surgery is completed. The twins were raised by the hospital staff in Guntur, but in 2006, they were shifted to Niloufer Hospital in Hyderabad.
Philanthropy and Goodwill Marred by Politics
In 2008, Dr. Ashish Mehta, Neurosurgeon of Breach Candy Hospital Mumbai, came forward to perform the surgery but it did not work out.
“Doctors told MiD DAY that preliminary reports of their surgery are promising and once the procedure is cleared by a medico ethical committee, the twins will be separated.” Mid Day newspaper on 17-07-2008.
Later, Dr. Keith Goh , neurosurgeon from East Shore Hospital, Singapore, was invited to India to examine the kids but unfortunately, this also didn’t work out.
After a series of disappointments, the kids finally received a ray of hope in the form of doctors from the UK, who agreed to examine them in February 2015.
Subsequently, Dr. David Dunaway and Dr. Owase Jeelani from London examined the kids and said that there was an 80 percent chance of survival following the surgery.
Doctors explained that the entire procedure would have to be divided into five separate surgeries, which would take around six to twelve months to complete. The twins share an important blood vessel and this is where the risk lies, the doctors added.
When Politics Gets in The Way
Later, the Telangana government wrote a letter to AIIMS, saying that the government was ready, in principle, to bear all the expenses of the surgery.
AIIMS doctors visited Hyderabad in December 2015 to examine the kids but conveyed the need to study the case once again because of some complications in the surgery.
Politics is also at play, as there have been insinuations that the Niloufer hospital returned Rs 4 lakh, which was donated to them by ABN Andhra Jyothi channel for the twins treatment because of pressure from the ruling TRS government because ABN is seen to be pro-Chandrababu Naidu.
Dr. Suresh, Superintendent of Niloufer Hospital told The News Minute:
“In 2012, ABN Andhra Jyothi had organised a special initiative on ‘Veena-Vani’, asking for donations to the channel’s bank account for their treatment.”
He added, ‘’ABN Andhra Jyothi channel had collected some money and given it to us, but our hospital Director of Medical Education (DME) rejected the donation, so we didn’t accept the cheque and returned it to them.’’
The Twins Deserve the Truth
As per latest reports, the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) in Hyderabad has the necessary equipment to conduct intra-arterial digital subtraction angiography (DSA), which is the next step in the treatment, although no date has been finalized yet.
Dr. Suresh added, “After the DSA is complete, a team of specialist doctors from AIIMS will examine the results before proceeding further. This is the only reason for the delay. Even the parents have given their consent for the surgery.”
Though Dr Suresh claims to be positive about this ‘round of surgeries’, it sounds disappointingly similar to promises made in the past.
Veena and Vani have been living in Niloufer hospital for nine years. Each time the focus turns on them, politicians and doctors promise them the earth. At this stage, they would perhaps prefer the truth.