CHICAGO (FOX 32/FOX 13) - A 10-month-old baby born with four legs and two spines underwent a complex surgical procedure successfully, according to Advocate Children's Hospital staff.
Dominique was born in Ivory Coast with a parasitic conjoined twin, causing the bottom half of her not-fully-developed twin's body to stick out from Dominque's neck and back.
Aside from the obvious practical concerns, doctors explained that Dominique's heart and lungs were essentially performing for two bodies, which would shorten her life span. She also had no bone covering her spinal cord at the back of her neck, which left her at risk of paralysis.
That meant it was important for Dominique to have the potentially life-saving surgery as early in her life as possible, but she was born in the Ivory Coast, and there were no resources in the African nation for her to have such a complicated procedure.
It took weeks of planning and help from Children's Medical Missions West, then three long flights. But Dominique finally arrived in the Chicago area last month to stay with a host family and prepare for the surgery.
Her host family was happy to welcome her, even with the short notice.
"We thought about her family far, far away, trusting us, trusting the doctors she had never met, trusting the host family, trusting the escort that flew her halfway around the world. But there was a bond right away," host 'mom' Nancy Swabb said. "She was so sweet and so ready to accept love and show affection, we knew she was loved."
Five surgeons and dozens of other medical professionals pitched in to help Dominique, who underwent successful surgery March 8 and is expected to live a normal life.
Since coming to the U.S. for specialized medical care, Dominique has been staying with a host family while her parents and siblings await her return to Africa.