A woman who could not afford an ultrasound, has given birth to conjoined twin girls who appear to be a single two-headed baby, in a hospital in North India. Unfortunately, according to doctors, the twins have a slim chance of survival even after they are operated upon. (Read: Indian-origin man jailed for assaulting wife)

The baby was born by caesarean section in the Cygnus J.K. Hindu Hospital in Sonipat, Haryana, and weighs about 3.3 kilograms. The girl was actually to be a set of twins, but ended up with a single body.

The conjoined infants are currently in the hospital’s intensive care unit. CEO of the hospital, Dr. Ashish Sehgal, who worked on the baby, said that she was alive and healthy at the moment, but keeping her alive would be a challenge. However, he added that he hoped for success, though doctors working on the baby did not expect it to survive.

While the mother, 28 year old Urmila Sharma, was pregnant, she was completely unaware of the fact that she was carrying conjoined twins. This was because she, and her husband Subhash, were too poor to afford regular ultrasounds or even a single one for that matter. It was only two weeks before the expected due date that the medical staff at the hospital became aware that there were serious complications.

A scan of her womb then revealed the worst – that her baby was actually a set of conjoined twins. By that time, it was too late to do anything to solve the problem, according to the doctors at the facility who operated on Urmila by C-section. On March 12, Urmila went into labour and delivered the baby.

According to Dr. Sehgal, a surgery to save the babies’ lives is not impossible, but extremely meticulous and challenging. He also said that doctors would not be able to operate on the child unless it becomes stable.

The baby is technically regarded to be conjoined twins. This type of conjointment is very rare, and the condition is called ‘dicephalic parapagus’ — a state where conjoined twins having independent heads share the same body. This puts enormous strain on the body’s vital organs, and this factor coupled with the difficulty of the operation drastically lessens the chances of the baby’s survival.

The doctors said that if the girl survives, it was possible to surgically operate on her. However, though they did not confirm whether the surgery would be separating the twins or easing their conjointment, both girls would not be able to survive. This is because they have two heads, necks and spines, but a single body which cannot be equally distributed. In the case of an operation, they must either find a way to lessen strain on internal organs so both can survive as conjoined, or they must successfully save one of the babies.

The doctors have promised to do all they can to keep the baby alive. The mother’s family and the baby’s parents were extremely distressed about the situation.

Sadly, as the baby remains in intensive care and doctors consider the options, the parents have yet to name her.