Two little girls that captured the heart of the nation!
Almost four months after their life-changing surgery, we bid a bittersweet farewell to 19-month-old, formerly conjoined twins, Nima and Dawa in March 2019.
Wiping away her tears as she said goodbye, mum Bhumchu said, “Nima, Dawa and mum so happy, thank you. To the doctors and Children First Foundation …. I am so happy.”
When they arrived in Australia, the twins touched down to what can only be described as a media frenzy. As they waited for their life-changing operation, they captured the hearts of everyone in Australia. Though the girls were oblivious to the cameras, Bhumchu was incredibly moved by the huge outpouring of love and support from the Australian public for her little girls.
After a short delay to increase their pre-surgery weight, the girls were whisked off to The Royal Children’s Hospital for their life-changing surgery. A team of 18, including surgeons, anaesthetists, technicians and theatre nurses, were involved in the complicated operation to separate Nima and Dawa, who were joined at the chest and abdomen.
The surgery, which took almost 6 hours, was completed ahead of schedule. At first, the twins were very anxious after the operation as they became aware that they were no longer joined. However, over the next few days and weeks, they made excellent progress and recovery, and just 16 days after the complex procedure, they were given the all-clear and discharged from the hospital.
The twins spent the next four months at The Retreat where they were cared for by Bhumchu, staff and volunteers as they learnt to live life as two separate girls. They underwent extensive physiotherapy to strengthen muscles they’d never used before, and to learn to do things they had never done before – like rolling, crawling, walking and standing up by themselves. By the time the girls left Melbourne to head back home to Bhutan, Nima was walking and Dawa was not far behind.
Having lived with the constant fear of knowing that if one of her fragile daughters died, her sister would be lost too, for Bhumchu, the outcome was a dream come true. “Before the separation, the girls were very weak, and our biggest fear was that if one of them died, so would the other. There was no option but separation, even if it meant we lost one of our daughters,” she said.
Back at home in Bhutan, the twins, now athree years old, are thriving. Although the girls love their new-found freedom, Bhumchu laughs and says they are no longer joined at the abdomen, but are still very much joined at the hip!
“I don’t know that they can do anything without each other! For instance, they can’t sleep unless they are next to each other, or even go to the bathroom without the other. They also have to wear the same clothes – if not, they will cry until we change them so that they are wearing the same clothes! So… they really are incomplete without each other,” says Bhumchu.
“Before they were separated, I had so many fears and zero hope for my babies – and look at them now! They can eat, sleep, play and do all the other things like any other healthy kid. The help, support and generosity offered by Children First Foundation, the doctors and the Australian public during our dark times will never be forgotten. Thank you for giving my girls a better future. You will always have our deepest gratitude.”