Indian girl has extra limbs removed

(CNN) An Indian toddler born with four arms and four legs was recovering in the intensive care unit early Wednesday after surgeons in India successfully completed a mammoth 27-hour operation to remove her "parasitic twin," head surgeon Dr. Sharan Patil said.

Speaking to reporters, Patil said although 2-year-old Lakshmi Tatma is being monitored closely after a team of some 30 surgeons removed her four additional limbs, she is "stable and sound."

The operation was conducted by specialists in pediatrics, neurosurgery, orthopedics and plastic surgery. Without it, doctors say, Lakshmi would be unlikely to survive beyond early adolescence.

"Every step of it was successful," Patil said of the operation. "There was no set back what so ever. The team worked through the night relentlessly."

Later in the day the girl's parents are slated to visit her, he said. Her parents have been given regular updates but were not allowed to see their daughter during the operation.

The task began early Tuesday in the southern Indian city of Bangalore and went through the night, with surgeons working eight-hour shifts.

The conjoined twin stopped developing in the mother's womb, and has a torso and limbs, but no head. It was joined to Lakshmi at the pelvis.

When Lakshmi was born into a poor, rural Indian family, villagers in the remote settlement of Rampur Kodar Katti in the northern state of Bihar believed she was sacred. As news of her birth spread, locals queued for a blessing from the baby.

Her parents, Shambhu and Poonam Tatma, named the girl after the Hindu goddess of wealth who has four arms. However, they were forced to keep her in hiding after they were approached by men offering money in exchange for putting their daughter in a circus.

The couple, who earn just $1 a day as casual laborers, wanted her to have the operation but were unable to pay for the rare procedure, which has never before been performed in India.

After Patil visited the girl in her village from Narayana Health City hospital in Bangalore, the hospital's foundation agreed to fund the $200,000 operation.

Planning for the surgery took a month, Patil said, and Lakshmi spent that month in the hospital.

"We are quite optimistic," Patil told CNN earlier. "We do expect that she should be able to walk normally and lead a normal life."

Many villagers, however, remain opposed to surgery and are planning to erect a temple to Lakshmi, who they still revere as sacred.

Patil said Lakshmi's parents are "very practical" and knew the risks of the medical treatment. Asked about the belief she is a reincarnation of the goddess, he said, "She's a very charming young girl, and I'm sure she'll grow up and be something special."

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