Malawi woman delivers baby without eyes, nose, ears, skull

A woman from Chiluvya Village in the area of Senior Chief Kanyenda in Nkhotakota district on December 6, 2012 delivered fraternal twins at Nkhotakota District Hospital, but one child was born without eyes, nose, ears, skull and under developed tongue.

Both grandmother of the child and Nkhotakota District Hospital officials confirmed the development.

Grandmother of the child, Elesiya Mwale, confirmed her daughter-in-law indeed delivered the twins. First to be born was the boy followed by the girl whose birth took quite some time.

“The girl is the one who was born without eyes, ears, nose and skull. After the delivery, medical personnel at the hospital looked at her and discovered that her brain was covered by a soft tissue and there was no skull.

“The medical personnel have told us that such cases do happen in life. We have accepted the situation and we are going to take care of her just like any other child. We don’t suspect any foul play on the matter,” Mwale said.

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Nkhotakota District Hospital Health Education and Public Relations Officer Frank Mawiliga said the specific reasons for the abnormality are not known. He said the baby girl is breathing using the mouth and cannot be breastfed because the tongue is not fully developed.

“She can survive with that condition only that she needs special attention because the same mouth will be used for breathing and feeding. As such, chances of experiencing choking are high,” he said.

Mawiliga said the child was under observation after delivery until on December 11, 2012 when the mother and grandmother of the child [Mwale] requested to be discharged from the hospital.

“We discharged them, but counseled them that they should take care of the child just like any other child. We told them that the situation that has happened to them could happen to any family therefore they shouldn’t have any shame,” he said.

Mawiliga said currently the condition of the infant is not life-threatening and at the time of discharging them the baby was fine from the stated abnormalities.

“Maybe in the long-run she may experience some challenges, but we have advised them that they should rush with her to the hospital whenever the child experiences some challenges,” Mawiliga said.

Medical experts say the case may be that of Twin Reversed Arterial Perfusion (TRAP) Sequence which is is a very rare condition that only occurs in twin pregnancies that share a common placenta (monochorionic twins).

In TRAP sequence, one twin is usually developmentally normal and the other twin has a serious condition, either missing a heart (acardiac) or a head (acephalic) or both, that prevents it from surviving on its own. As a result, the acardiac/acephalic twin receives all of its blood from the normal or “pump” twin.

TRAP sequence occurs in approximately 1% of monochorionic twin pregnancies and 1 in every 35,000 live births.—(Additional reporting by Nyasa Times)

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