Nov 12, 2007

From Eight Limbs to Four: A Toddler's Transformation Brings Many Blessings

Petite, two-year-old, gorgeous toddler, Lakshmi Tatma looks like other children from the waist up. Okay, maybe she's a little cuter than is fair, but blessings sometimes come in odd packages. Lakshmi, as you may have heard, was born with parts of a parasitic twin attached to her pelvis. Born into a Hindu culture that worships the many-limbed deity, Vishnu, it seems natural that local villagers would wonder if she were the reincarnation of the true goddess.

Although it might have been tempting for the Tatma family to revel in the goddess status of their little girl, the bad news was that her chances of living beyond adolescence in her condition were slim.

When I first heard about the story, I hoped her parents would not choose the route of glory but would put their girl first. And blessedly, they did. Even a wealthy family, however, could not have afforded the extensive surgeries that doctors said would be necessary to transform Lakshmi from an eight-limbed child into a four-limbed one, and the Tatma’s are not wealthy.

Then the blessings started to flow: a team of 30 doctors was organized who promised to perform the initial operation for free. International attention must certainly have brought positive publicity to the community. More good news came over the weekend after a smiling lead physician, Dr. Sharan Patil, reported Lakshmi was doing "wonderfully well" after the successful completion of the separation operation. Reports have come in that Lakshmi has been smiling, eating, wiggling her toes, and, well, looking around for her missing limbs--I'm sure I would be too. The latest word is that she is now out of intensive care.

While studying some photos of Lakshmi before her operation, my four-year-old climbed on my lap. She immediately took a huge interest in the girl and wanted to know everything about her (wish there were more information to be had!). Now, every day, Jaclyn asks about Lakshmi and I dutifully look up what I can find. And every night as we express our gratitude for our meal, we say a little prayer for Lakshmi. I wish we could send Lakshmi a get-well card. If anyone knows contact information, please let me know.

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