A mother and her child are safely recovering after a standard cesarean delivery of a not-so-normal pregnancy.
A Columbian woman gave birth to a healthy baby girl whose abdomen contained her own twin. While extremely rare occurring in only 1 in 500,000 births according to a British medical journal, the condition, known as “fetus-in-fetu” is not a new phenomenon. The earliest recordings date back to the early 1800s. Similar births occurring in the Far East – India, Indonesia- and Singapore – were reported in recent years.
This case is markedly different because Dr. Miguel Parra-Saavedra discovered the abnormality during prenatal care. A high-risk specialist in Barranquilla, Colombia, Dr. Parra-Saavedra is known for his work during the Zika virus in 2016.
The mother, Monica Vega, sought Dr. Parra-Saavedra after her obstetrician found a possible liver cyst on the baby. Using color Doppler and 3D/4D imaging, the specialist actually found the fluid-filled space was a developing infant, complete with a separate umbilical cord drawing a blood supply from her sister’s intestine.
“I told the mother, and she said, ‘What? No, doctor, this is impossible.’” Parra-Saavedra told reporters, “but I explained step-by-step and she understood.”
Dr. Parra-Saavedra delivered a fully formed child at 37-weeks’ gestation. Itzamara Vega weighed 7 pounds and underwent laparoscopic surgery to remove her partially-formed twin because the fetus could potentially crush vital organs if it continued to grow.
The fetal twin was about 2 inches long, had a primary head and limb shape, but lacked a brain or heart according to doctors. When DNA testing is complete, Parra-Saavedra believes it will prove this fetus was an identical twin from the same ovum, absorbed on the seventeenth day of gestation, when the embryo flattens and folds to change shape from round to oblong to accommodate growth.
Mother and baby are doing well, though the media is fascinated with this story and continue to seek Ms. Vega for interviews.