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Video: Baby Dominique reunites with family in Africa

By, Lisa Parro, health enews, a news service from Advocate Health Care

A baby born with four legs and two spines has been reunited with her family in Africa following her life-changing surgery at Advocate Children’s Hospital.

Baby Dominique’s mother, father and sisters saw her for the first time in two months at the Abidjan Airport in the Ivory Coast on April 20.

“I never thought that I’d see my daughter like this today,” Dominique’s mother said. “It’s really a miracle. I want to thank all the surgeons who did a great job. And also thank you to the American people who helped my little Dominique, who allowed her to have a normal life, like other children.”

Dr. John Ruge, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Advocate Children’s Hospital who was part of Dominique’s surgical team, wished the family well.

“It is awesome to see Dominique back home in the care of her family,” Dr. Ruge said. “It is the perfect ending to her journey to the United States. It is also a great beginning for her new life in the Ivory Coast. I’m so proud of our surgical team and the impact we have had on little Dominique’s life. It is why we do what we do every day.”

11-month-old Dominique was born with a parasitic conjoined twin. The bottom half of her twin’s not-fully-developed body – including waist, legs and feet – protruded from Dominique’s neck and back until her risky but successful surgery at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge last month.

The surgery, performed March 8 by five surgeons and involving a team of over 50 clinicians, was necessary to give Dominique the chance to live a long and normal life. Without separation, Dominique’s little heart and lungs would continue functioning for two people and thus shorten her lifespan. The baby would also suffer from severe balance issues once older, and her appearance would likely result in ridicule and the possibility of her becoming a social outcast.

Dominique spent more than two months in the United States with her host family, the Swabbs, from the Edgebrook neighborhood in Chicago. She has arrived home on April 20 – just in time to celebrate her first birthday in May.  For more information on Dominique, click here.

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