The conjoined twins, Nima Jamyang Pelden and Dawa Jamyang Pelden were born on 14 July 2017 in Phuentsholing Hospital. The identical twins were joined at the thorax and the abdomen region. They were successfully separated on 9 November 2018 at Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) in Melbourne, Australia.
They have been home for more than three months since their return from Australia in early March. According to the twins’ mother, Bumchu Zangmo, they are healthy and happy 23-month-old toddlers. Nima and Dawa will be turning two on 14 July.
According to Bumchu, Nima was quicker to walk independently. Dawa had to catch up with Nima but she can now walk without support. However, Dawa still needs support while using the staircase whereas Nima can manage on her own.
“For almost two months, my two little girls had a tough time adjusting to the food, the place and the language that we speak,” said Bumchu Zangmo.
The twins now understand their local dialect and a few English words. They also like to eat pasta, buns and potatoes apart from the normal Bhutanese food diet, said Bumchu Zangmo.
She says her twins are getting healthier as compared to a few months ago. They continue to receive their exercises at home and are taken for walks. Bumchu Zangmo added that she is concerned that the twins are not gaining much weight. They are just around 8.1 kilograms each.
Pediatric Surgeon at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) Dr Karma Sherub, is in touch with the twins. He said he also receives frequent queries on the health and well being of the twins from the head, pediatric surgery at RCH, Dr Joe Crameri.
The non-profit organization in Melbourne, Australia, Children First Foundation (CFF), are still in touch with Nima and Dawa. “The staff at Children First Foundation still video call us asking about their health,” said Bumchu. CFF financed the travel and the entire cost for the surgery estimated at around AUD 250,000. The surgery to separate the conjoined twins took six hours and was carried out by four surgeons and a team of about 18 medical assistants.
The twins and their mother, along with a nurse as a medical escort to help them, left on 1 October 2018. The twins were discharged from RCH on 26 November 2018 and continued their recovery at CFF’s Kilmore Retreat in Melbourne where they received physiotherapy and nutritional support.
Nima and Dawa are still inseparable, says their mother, as they immediately search for each other if they are not at a close proximity. They also want everything to be the same when it comes to food, drinks, clothes and toys.
While Bumchu is happy to see her formerly conjoined twins as individual toddlers, however, she is worried that her girls might have to endure teasing and harassment when they grow up and attend school. “I hope no one will tease them about being conjoined in the past,” said Bumchu Zangmo.
She said while there are many people who are warm and nice towards them, however, there are a few people who give them rude stares and make them feel uncomfortable.
Bumchu says she is thankful to all her relatives, friends and the people of Bhutan for their prayers and well wishes for her two little toddlers.
Nima and Dawa have four elder siblings; three elder sisters and a brother who adore them.