Nine-month-old Milagros Cerron is examinated by doctor Luis Rubio at a hospital in Lima before surgery
Pilar Olivares  /  Reuters
Milagros Cerron is one of only a small number of children born with sirenomelia, or "mermaid syndrome," to have lived more than a few hours, experts say.
updated 2/4/2005 1:10:13 PM ET 2005-02-04T18:10:13

A Peruvian medical team is preparing for pioneering surgery to separate the fused legs of a 9-month-old girl born with a rare condition known as sirenomelia, or “mermaid syndrome.”

Milagros Cerron, who has fused legs but separated feet, is one of very few people in the world with the condition, doctors say.

A team of doctors will attempt to free her legs from each other on Feb. 24. at one of Lima’s charity hospitals for the poor, said lead surgeon Luis Rubio on Thursday.

“This is a child that has her own personality,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press. “Her relation to her surroundings is good. She babbles words. She is enchanting and is a wonderful joy.”

Future operations needed
The girl was born in the mountain city of Huancayo, 125 miles east of the capital, Lima. Almost none of the children born with this condition survives more than several days because of defects to their internal organs, Rubio said.

Although most of Milagros’ internal organs are fine she has just one kidney. None of her major organs will be part of the operation, Rubio said.

Rubio said the operation is expected to take five hours and will be performed by a team that includes trauma surgeons, plastic surgeons, cardiovascular surgeons, neurologists, gynecologists and a pediatricians.

The child will need future operations to properly rotate her feet forward and to reconstruct her genitalia, Rubio said.

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