Back in March, conjoined twins Aleesha Hana and Aleeya Hana were successfully separated from each other. Now the National Heart Institute (IJN) has wowed everyone by performing the first arterial switch surgery on Aleesha.
The conjoined twins were born in February this year in Sabah. Two weeks later, Aleesha was diagnosed with Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA).
What is TGA?
This condition means that simply put, the connecting vessels in the heart are swapped. The aorta and pulmonary artery are connected to the opposite ventricles.
Having this leads to the oxygenated and deoxygenated blood to mix with each other. Usually a healthy heart should have the two types of blood separated to ensure proper distribution to the body.
When the two mix together, the lungs and body cannot receive the necessary amount of oxygen. TGA is one of the existing heart problems that is referred to as the ‘blue baby syndrome’.
Now, IJN has successfully carried out an arterial switch surgery on baby Aleesha to correct the condition. Essentially, the arterial switch surgery is a procedure in which the aorta and pulmonary artery are switched.
This allows for them to be attached to the correct side of the heart. It is a challenging surgery and requires a lot of expertise.
Dr Hasri Samion who is the head of the Paediatric and Congenital Heart Centre addressed the procedure during a press conference. He said that “One of the challenges was that we could not perform the surgery immediately as Aleesha was still joined with her healthy sister.”
He elaborates that the surgery could have been carried out when she was just one month old. Instead, the twins had to undergo multiple surgeries in order to be separated first.
Dr Hasri also acknowledges the role that advanced communication technology played in this. Without it, the team at IJN would not have known about baby Aleesha’s condition.
Baby Aleesha has been so strong throughout the whole ordeal. She has had multiple surgeries to be separated, a weak and infected lung, and a four hour surgery to correct her condition. Even after the surgery she had to endure having her chest open for 5 days.
She has been transferred back to Sabah where she can have more time to heal. We wish her and her family all the best on their journey towards recovery.