A sad story from Bangladesh: a baby boy born with two heads has passed away at just two days old. What makes the story especially sad is that apparently the boy, named Kiron, was doing surprisingly well shortly after birth, even eating, but his parents could not afford further medical treatment at a larger hospital. They took him home, where he died of respiratory problems.
The photo above shows how remarkably normal both heads look – at first, I thought it was a hoax. It’s unclear at this point how Kiron developed two heads, although what little I’ve seen suggests that it was probably a case of a single embryo undergoing partial axial splitting, rather than two embryos fusing together. Doctors report that Kiron was able to eat with both mouths, but only had one stomach. No further details have been provided as to his internal organs or skeletal structure, or whether both heads were conscious (in which case “he” should probably be described as “they”).
Interestingly, thousands of locals mobbed the hospital after Kiron’s birth, and his family had to be protected by police. Babies with congenital abnormalities, such as multiple arms or legs, are often viewed as demigods in rural Bangladesh and India – better, I suppose, than the attitude toward such abnormalities here in the US.
Abigail and Brittany Hensel are partially conjoined twins that have been the subject of much media attention. They’ve done remarkably well, but they’re readily seen as separate individuals; they have twin spinal cords with independent control of their respective limbs. It’s unclear if Kiron would have had such a division of labor, or whether both of the heads would have had an independent consciousness/personality. Regardless, although Kiron might have received better medical care here, it’s hard to imagine him living a normal life in our culture.