A Peruvian baby born with a rare defect in which her legs were fused was making good progress six months after undergoing risky surgery to separate them, her doctor said Tuesday.
Believed to be one of the world’s only surviving “mermaid syndrome” babies — most infants with the sirenomelia syndrome die within hours — 19-month-old Milagros Cerron grabbed her toes and kicked her legs in a Lima hospital at her first public presentation since the bandages from her June operation were removed.
Dressed in tiny jeans and a white vest, Milagros, whose names means miracles in Spanish, underwent two operations that have only be tried a handful of times to first part her knees and then her thighs.
Sixteen-year-old Tiffany Yorks of the United States, whose legs were parted when she was a baby, has said she believes she is the only survivor of the “mermaid syndrome.”
10 to 15 years of treatment
Many born with the defect -- the odds of which are 1-in-60,000 to 1-in-100,000 -- lack kidneys and most die soon after birth.
“Milagros’ condition is stable, but she’ll need continued treatment and surgery for the next 10 to 15 years,” said Luis Rubio, who has cared for Milagros since she was two days old.
The city of Lima has pledged to pay for several ensuing operations and that are Milagros only chance of a normal life.
Her genital reconstruction, for instance, will probably wait until adolescence, Rubio said.
“I dream that one day she will be able to walk, but we must see how nature adapts to the surgery,” Rubio said, holding her up and allowing Milagros’ legs to take some of her weight.
Weighing 20 pounds and 28 inches tall, Milagros is small for her age. But Rubio said that was not a concern given her situation.
Milagros was born in April 2004 in the Andean town of Huancayo and her mother had no ultrasound scan so Milagros’ appearance was a total shock.
“But we’re so delighted now. We hope one day she’ll be able to walk, to play in the park, to go to university,” said Milagros’ father, Ricardo Cerron.
Before her operation, the baby girl’s abdomen flowed seamlessly into her legs, trapped in a sack of tissue and fat down to her heels. Her feet were splayed in a “V” like a mermaid’s tail.