Born with 4 arms, 4 legs: Chinese baby has surgery to remove headless parasitic fetus attached to chest, now recovering
- A parasite fetus is a rare congenital anomaly where a malformed parasitic fetus develops on the body of its twin in the womb
- The boy was born weighing 2.9kg and was taken straight to intensive care when the abnormality was discovered after his birth
Doctors in southern China have successfully performed surgery to remove a rare parasite fetus, described as a “serious birth defect”, from a recently born baby.
A woman, surnamed Yan, gave birth to a boy weighing 2.9kg at the end of August in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. The boy was immediately sent to the intensive care unit after staff saw attached to his chest a parasite fetus with only arms and legs, but no head or heart, the Southern Metropolis News reported.
A parasite fetus is a rare congenital abnormality where a malformed and parasitic fetus develops on the body of its twin.
Mao Jianxiong, a surgeon at the Shenzhen Children’s Hospital, said the parasite was large and was clearly abnormal.
“We found the baby has congenital heart disease and high blood pressure in the pulmonary artery. He had to supply blood to the parasite fetus, adding more pressure on his heart and putting his life in danger,” Mao said.
“So we must carry out the surgery to remove the parasite part as soon as possible.”
The surgery was challenging because of the newborn’s tiny thin-walled blood vessels and difficulty in repairing damage caused when removing the parasite from its small chest.
“The baby’s organs are small and his tiny blood vessels have thin walls...but we need to complete this operation in a short time,” Mao said.
Two days after the boy’s birth, doctors performed the surgery which lasted more than three hours. The parasite fetus, weighing 260 grams, was successfully removed.
The baby boy was discharged from the hospital a few days later. During a check-up earlier this month, doctors found the baby in a healthy condition.
“A parasite fetus is a very serious birth defect,” said Mao. “Its occurrence rate is about one in every half a million births. As far as we know, there are about 200 cases reported around the world.”
A video report on the boy’s story has been viewed more than 15 million times on Weibo and five million times on Douyin.
About 900,000 babies are born with birth defects every year in China, with congenital heart disease the most common illness.