Chinese baby born with three legs has third limb removed in a 10 hour long surgery. [Representational image]
Chinese baby born with three legs has third limb removed in a 10 hour long surgery. [Representational image]Creative Commons.

A Chinese baby was born with an extra leg due to an extremely rare fault in pregnancy. Fortunately, the 11-month-old baby's extra limb was removed in a grueling 10-hour surgery.

The extra leg wasn't originally the baby's, even though it sprouted from his body, the surgeons said. It actually belonged to the baby's underdeveloped parasitic twin, which the baby must have absorbed in the womb, they added.

The condition of parasitic twins arises when identical twins fail to separate, and the healthier one absorbs the underdeveloped twin that had possibly died in the womb itself. It occurs in one in a million live births.

In this case, the baby nicknamed Xiao Fei had to undergo a complex surgery at a hospital in Shanghai on March 19, People's Daily Online reported citing China News.

Xiao Fei and his family are natives of Xinjiang in western China. The parasitic twin latched on to his body hadn't been detected prior to Xiao's birth because his mother hadn't undergone regular pregnancy checkups, as per the reports.

Post birth, Xiao's family took him across China in search of treatment, until the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre finally admitted him. Chen Qiu, the surgeon who operated on the baby, described his condition as 'highly complicated'. 

Dr Chen had shared with Shanghai Dragon Television before the surgery that Xiao's middle leg would be removed since it didn't have any function. At the same time, the baby's right leg – which was to be kept – was born deformed with a foot in the shape like a hand, which could not function properly.

Therefore, the team decided to not only remove the baby's middle leg but also cut off the foot on the right leg and transplant the extra leg's foot on the right leg.

But being born with an extra limb wasn't the only condition Xiao was born with. He was also diagnosed with an undescended testicle, abdominal hernia, and congenital heart disease – all of which increased the potential risks of the operation.

The director of the Department of Urology of the hospital, Bao Joan, also said that the same surgery would involve Xiao's right testicle being pulled down to its usual place from the abdomen. The operation, which started from 10 am and finished at 7.35 pm was deemed a success by the surgeons.

Xiao Fei's father Ma Xiaolong told Shanghai Dragon Television: "I thank the doctors very much. I was so nervous sitting outside the surgery room, but now after I see my child, I'm not nervous anymore."

Zhu Tongyu, the director of Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre, believes the success of the surgery was significant, owing to how rare the condition is. Zhu credited the operation for enabling Xiao to live a normal life.

The baby's kneecaps are still missing. Surgery for the same will be performed when the boy is slightly older.