Do you Remember her, Lakshmi (who was born with four arms and four legs ) - Lakshmi 's The walk of life
This was in the news last year and it's really good to know that she is doing so well. I just wanted this to share with everyone. I am also putting the original news below, so you can see the amazing journey this little girl had.
The walk of life
It was an unsteady walk, like a child learning to walk for the first time, but that Lakshmi Tatma, 3, could actually do it was a miracle.
She had been born with four hands and four legs. While toddlers her age ran around her, she just about managed to drag herself in her poor village in rural Bihar. Last September, she underwent a 27-hour rare surgery in Bangalore to remove the extra limbs. The fighter that she was, that Diwali day of the operation, Lakshmi fought hard and made it.
Today in the sands of the mighty Thar desert in Manaklao near Jodhpur, Lakshmi is learning to walk again. There are two more surgeries to be done this year that will close her pelvic floor and remove a piece of the spine of her parasitic twin that is fused with her spine.
If you didn't know that Lakshmi once had eight limbs and had a headless conjoined twin, you would disbelieve she was the same child. Unless, of course, you recognised those eyes -- bright enough to light up a million lives.
"She is a very charismatic girl and has a wonderful personality. She is not quite normal and knows she can't walk fully well as yet," says Sneh Gupta, a filmmaker who took up Lakshmi's cause and made a documentary on her for Channel 4. After living in Nairobi and the United Kingdom for most of her life, Sneh moved to India in 1996, and is the executive director of the residential school for handicapped children where Lakshmi's family now lives.
That hot Sunday morning last week, Lakshmi sat on a bed as her father Shambhu oiled her hair. Their family of five had just returned the previous day after a two-day train journey from Rampur Kodar Kutti, near Araria in Bihar, where the monsoon had wrecked havoc. Jodhpur, on the other hand, was yet to see rain this year.
Lakshmi and her family moved to Jodhpur after the surgery. It was a place they had never been to before but when the Sucheta Kriplani Shiksha Niketan, the school for handicapped children offered to take the family in, they saw no reason to refuse.
Shambhu had worked as a labourer in his village, making Rs 30 to Rs 40 on the days he got work, but here at the school, they were given a place to stay and Mithilesh, the elder son who had had no formal education before, was enrolled in school.
"I'll give my life for Lakshmi and do whatever it takes to see that she gets alright," says Shambhu who does odd jobs at the school. "She gets some boils and fever at times," says Poonam, her mother.
Lakshmi is called Nunu by those who are closest to her in the new home. Early this year, the family left Manaklao for nearly five months to fulfill a mannat (religious promise) in their native village.
"We had vowed to give a sacrifice of two goats and also build a temple in her name," says Shambhu, "We sacrificed the goats for about Rs 12,000 but don't have money for the temple yet. I am trying to collect money from people but bricks have become so expensive."
Though it had been a wonderful return back to the village, with people dropping in to see her, Lakshmi had taken seriously ill. The fever lasted nearly 15 days and the recovery was long and painstaking. Apart from seeking treatment from the medical doctor, they even asked the village ojha (considered a faith healer in villages) for a totem to ward the evil eye. "It cost Rs 3,000 and is tied around her neck," says Shambhu.
His wife had wanted to stay longer, till the Bihari festival of Chhat Puja perhaps, but the thought of Nunu's impending surgeries had brought them back.
"I can't tell you our happiness when we saw her walk for the first time. We couldn't believe that she could be alright and we want her to get fully well," says Poonam adjusting her youngest daughter Saraswati in her lap.
She says they miss their family and village, but know the move is best for their child. "These people at the school are greater than god for me," says Shambhu.
It was in the plains of the Bihar-Nepal border that Lakshmi was born on Diwali day, three years ago. People saw her four arms and looked upon her as an incarnation of the goddess of wealth worshipped during Diwali -- Lakshmi. That's how she got her name and that is why Diwali was chosen as the day for her rare and critical surgery in Bangalore.
Her headless identical twin was joined to her pelvis. Unable to find a cure, earlier, the poor family had borrowed money and brought her to Delhi where Poonam's brother worked as a mason. They went to a hospital in Shahadra where the doctors told them they were unable to treat her.
In Delhi, Sam Relph a British journalist, wrote about them after seeing a photograph of Lakshmi in a newspaper. He contacted Sneh Gupta, the filmmaker involved with the SKSN school in Manaklao, Jodhpur, who garnered support for Lakshmi and documented her journey to recovery.
She arranged for Dr Sharan Patil, an orthopaedic surgeon at Bangalore's Sparsh Hospital, to travel with the crew to examine Lakshmi in the village. The family then arrived in Bangalore for the surgery, which was done free of cost by Sparsh Hospital, while Channel 4 paid for all the additional expense of travel, stay etc.
"We were strangers, what worried the parents was -- what if we kidnapped Nunu," says Sneh in her home office in New Delhi. "It was a huge responsibility for me but the thought that this was possible, gave me the courage to go on."
Poonam could neither eat nor sleep before or during the surgery. "I was scared and I had left it all to God," she says, looking at Nunu as she flays her legs and walks a few steps.
When the team of doctors led by Dr Sharan Patil declared the surgery had been a success, the media was already giving round the clock updates. "People recognise us now because of Lakshmi," says Poonam. "In the train they asked if she was the same Lakshmi and when we went back to the village, so many people came to just see her."
After staying in Bangalore for a month after the surgery, the family arrived at the Sucheta Kriplani Shiksha Niketan -- which has 550 polio-stricken children.
What started as a small shelter for poor children is now a secondary school which has volunteers from around the world. Victoria, from the British Home office was teaching English for a few months and Dr Bhati, the secretary, informs us that shortly another set of volunteers will arrive from the UK.
The school looks after Lakshmi's needs which includes a high protein diet, fortnightly trips to main Jodhpur town for medical examination and physiotherapy. In the time she had been away in Bihar, the routine had been broken but now it is to resume with the aim of getting her healthy before the next surgery.
Lakshmi's next operation could either be in Bangalore or London, says Dr Bhati, the founder and in charge of the school, whom Lakshmi calls Nana. It is not yet decided when the surgery will be and efforts are being made to raise funds for it.
"It is easier to get funds for a building -- where people can have their names on it -- but it is not easy getting funds for something like this," says Shen Gupta.
"Our worries will only end after all the operations are over. Only then we can think of life ahead. We just want Lakshmi to get completely well so that she can grow up like any other child," adds Poonam.
Like all parents, the uneducated Shambhu and Poonam want their children to get an education and seek a better life. As little Nunu plays with a tea cup, kneading a hand towel into it, her silver bangles jingle-jangle daintily. By her bedside, her parents watch her as she throws the tea cup, gets up and walks towards them.
No one could walk this earth better. If you looked into Poonam's face, that is what it seemed to say.
This was the story published in BBC, last year.
Girl separation surgery a success
Separation surgery on a two-year-old Indian girl who was born with four arms and four legs has been successful, doctors say.
Lakshmi Tatma was joined at the pelvis to what was, in effect, a headless, undeveloped twin.
A team of surgeons in the southern city of Bangalore operated on Lakshmi for 27 hours to separate her spinal column and kidney from that of her twin.
It is hoped the procedure will allow her to survive beyond adolescence.
"Lakshmi is stable and sound," the doctor leading the operation, Sharan Patil, told a news conference which was shown live on television channels across India.
"She has withstood the operation, she is safe and doing well," he said.
Lakshmi is still on ventilation.
"We will keep a close watch on her for the next 48 to 72 hours and won't move from the hospital until she stabilises," Dr Patil said.
More than 30 doctors "worked relentlessly through the night to make the operation successful," he said and added that there was "no setback at any stage of the surgery".
Dr Patil said he was "optimistic about the child's survival".
The surgery began at 0700 local time (0130 GMT) on Tuesday and ended at 1000 local time (0430 GMT) on Wednesday.
Lakshmi's parents, poor labourers from the northern Indian state of Bihar, would be allowed to see their daughter this afternoon.
The child has been hailed by some in her village in Bihar as the reincarnation of the multi-limbed Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.
Conjoined twins are rare, occurring in about one in every 200,000 births.
They originate from a single fertilised egg, so they are always identical and of the same sex.
The overall survival rate of conjoined twins is somewhere between 5% and 25%.
Historical records over the past 500 years detail about 600 surviving sets of conjoined twins - more than 70% of which have been female twins.