Fetus in fetu is an extremely rare condition that occurs when one fetus is absorbed by its own sibling in the womb.
When an ultrasound revealed that Mónica Vega had two umbilical cords growing inside of her while she was seven months pregnant, the natural hope was that she was expecting twins. But according to news.com.au, one unborn child actually absorbed the other fetus.
The Colombian woman’s pregnancy condition, known as “fetus in fetu,” is extremely rare. According to a 2010 report from the National Institutes of Health, the condition occurs in one in every 500,000 births. Unfortunately, in Vega’s case, this not only meant an emergency C-section for herself, but also one for her baby girl Itzmara — at just one day old.
In this case, according to Mamás Latinas, just one umbilical cord connected in a normal way — between Itzmara and her mother. Meanwhile, the other cord connected Itzmara to the dead fetus, who was continuing to grow inside of her as a “parasitic twin.”
Despite lacking a heart and a brain, the dead fetus was still growing at a dangerous rate. Its size risked damaging the healthy baby’s internal organs. This meant that the emergency surgeries were necessary to save both the healthy baby and her mother. There was no time to waste.
Remarkably, less than 200 cases of fetus in fetu have been reported in medical journals. Despite the tragedy of losing one baby before it even had a chance, Vega’s scenario was actually one of the luckier cases.
Only in August did a report by the British Medical Journal reveal how awful the condition can be if left undiagnosed. It took a 17-year-old Indian girl five years to stop ignoring a growing stomach lump and finally seek help.
For the young teen, this lump simply caused her stomach pain and affected her eating habits. However, once doctors conducted some thorough tests, they found that this lump contained “multiple teeth,” along with “hairs, mature bones, and other body parts.”
The girl had no idea that she’d been living with her dead, parasitic twin for nearly two decades after having absorbed it in the womb. Fortunately, doctors were able to remove the mass, leading to the teen’s full recovery.
“I was much worried about my abdominal lump,” she said afterward. “After operation, I am feeling very well and my abdomen is now flat and my parents are also very happy. Thanks to all operating doctors.”
Vega’s case was, of course, extremely serious. Fortunately, she had the help of Dr. Miguel Parra-Saavedra — a professional at handling high-risk pregnancies. He first had to receive Vega’s go-ahead to prematurely deliver her baby via C-section.
But the most unnerving part of the whole process came a mere 24 hours after Vega welcomed her baby girl into the world. She had to hand her off to surgeons to conduct a C-section on the baby when she was just one day old. Thankfully, it’s been reported that the operation was a success, and the baby is expected to have no further complications.
If the mother and daughter had not undergone these emergency surgeries, this story may have taken a much bleaker turn.
After learning about the baby who needed a C-section to remove her parasitic twin, read the story of five-year-old Lina Medina — the youngest mother in the world. Then, learn about how the chainsaw was originally invented to deliver babies.