ILLINOIS (REUTERS) - Ten-month-old Baby Dominique was born with four legs. Her identical twin did not fully develop, causing the baby girl to have a 'parasitic conjoined twin' protruding from her neck and back.
Dominique traveled from the Ivory Coast of Africa to the United States with support from an Ohio-based charity organization in order to undergo separation surgery.
Foster mom Nancy Swabb, who heard about Dominique's plight on Facebook, was right there with Dominique as she underwent the procedure - involving five surgeons and a team of over 50 clinicians, at Advocate Children's Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois on March 8.
In a Skype interview with Reuters after the operation, Pediatric Neurosurgeon John Ruge said the procedure was necessary, because without it, Dominique's little organs would have had to continue functioning for herself and the bottom half - waist, legs and feet - of another person, shortening her life span.
"You can imagine the strain on her heart and lungs having to provide nourishment to another almost individual. This was attached to a very important junction between the neck and the thoracic spine and that amount of mass and disturbance would cause her significant spinal problems as she grows."
Doctors say Dominque is recovering well. In a few weeks, she'll return to her birth family.
But for Swabb, the baby who once had four legs changed her life.
"She has touched our hearts. She is a member of our family, but I think we know she'll go back to her loving family and we'll keep in touch. This has changed our lives. She's pretty amazing."