Foetus found in one-and-a-half month old boy

September 29th, 2008 - 11:44 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 29 (IANS) One-and-a-half-month-old Junaid Alam was barely able to breathe because of his increasing abdominal swelling. But neither he nor his parents knew that the infant was actually carrying the foetus of his sibling inside him.One of the worlds’ bizarre medical conditions, a fetus-in-fetu - that is, a partly formed foetus inside a fully developed human body - was successfully removed after an operation at a hospital in Kolkata.

“Alam, a resident of Jharkhand, was admitted to Belona Nursing Home at Mominpore (in south Kolkata) Sep 21 with severe respiratory distress and increasing abdominal swelling since birth. After carrying out a series of medical tests, including an X-Ray, an ultrasonography and a CT scan, a giant tumour was detected in his abdomen,” paediatric surgeon Praffulla Kumar Mishra, who operated on Alam, told IANS.

“After seeing the reports, the doctors were sure that it was a case of cancer in a hopeless condition, that is, if we operated, the chances of survival were only five percent,” Mishra said.

Mishra further said Alam’s father Kausar had earlier consulted doctors in Jharkhand and Kolkata, but no one was ready to take up the case because of the survival risk.

However, after Kausar’s consent, Alam was operated on Sep 22 and the real shock came after that.

“The tumour weighed one-and-a half kilos and was attached to the abdominal aorta with a vascular pedicle. When I cut open its covering, there was a partly formed human body of unidentified sex with two hands, two legs and deformed fingers and toes. There were even brain tissues without a skull and a partly formed vertebral column,” Mishra said.

“This is a case of fetus-in-fetu or fetiform teratoma, one of the rarest conditions in medical literature,” the doctor added.

Explaining the condition that leads to such cases, Mishra said this abnormality occurs during early stages of twin pregnancy.

“An ovum after fertilisation starts multiplying and at a certain stage starts differentiating into ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm, which organises to form a human body. But if one of the foetus in undifferentiated form remains dormant, it tends to form a tumour called teratoma. These cells are toti-potent - they have the potency to become a part of ectoderm, endoderm or mesoderm.”

Mishra further explained that in such cases, the second foetus becomes dominant and envelops its twin. The twin can grow like a parasite inside the dominant one even post-birth but usually both die before birth.

“This is a rare case where the dominant one has survived,” Mishra said.

Alam, who is the fifth child of his parents, is still in the hospital and is keeping well.

“There are less than 90 cases of fetus-in-fetu across the world recorded in medical literature,” Ajay Mehta, doctor of Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai and who has earlier handled such a case, told IANS over the telephone.

(Sreya Basu can be contacted at

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Sports |