"She's doing really well," says her host mother, Nancy Swabb

By Caitlin Keating
March 22, 2017 04:42 PM
Baby Dominique
Advocate Children's Hospital

A baby girl born with four legs and two spines is thriving after reconstructive surgery at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois, saved her life.

Dominique, a 10-month-old from the Ivory Coast of Africa, was born with what is known as a parasitic twin, where the bottom half of her twin’s not-fully-developed body — including waist, legs and feet — protruded from her neck and back, according to the hospital.

In late January, Nancy Swabb and her family, who live near the hospital, saw a picture of Dominique in a social media post saying that she needed a host family for two months. Children’s Medical Mission West had raised funds for Dominique’s flight.

Baby Dominique and Nancy Swabb
Advocate Children's Hospital

“If you can say love at first sight, I think that’s true for us,” Swabb said at the hospital’s press conference on Tuesday. “When we met sweet Dominique she came on three flights to get here. She came with an escort from American Airlines and we thought about her family far, far away trusting us, trusting the doctors they had never met, trusting the escort who flew her half way across the world.”

It was an instant bond.

“She was so sweet and so ready to accept love and be affectionate and show affection,” she says. “We knew that she was loved. We thought every day, every moment about her family waiting for her return, and we just feel really honored to be her family for a little while.”

The March 8 surgery, which was performed by five surgeons and involved a team of over 50 clinicians, was necessary to give Dominique the chance to live a long and normal life. Without it, her heart and lungs would continue functioning for two people and shorten her lifespan, according to the hospital.

Baby Dominique during the surgery
Advocate Children's Hospital

“She wasn’t able to do some of the things that normal little kids do, like turn over and sit up and all those types of things. Now that we have removed her parasitic twin, she is a more normal girl,” Dr. Robert Givens Kellogg, a pediatric neurosurgeon, said at the press conference.

Dominique will soon be reunited with her family in Africa.