Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Eleven months after their arrival from Australia, the country’s first conjoined twins, Nima and Dawa Palden, are progressing healthy.

At their home in Phuentsholing yesterday, the twins were keeping their parents busy. They wanted to go out in the open. It’s the season of flu and the girls had mild fever.

Nima and Dawa at home

Nima and Dawa at home

Mother Bumchu Zangmo said when one catches cold, the other also catches the disease automatically.

“Doctors have also explained this to us,” she said.

However, the girls were doing well, Bumchu Zangmo and her husband Sonam Tshering said. They eat well. Play. The cold the girls have caught this time is only the second time they were sick after returning from Australia in March 7, 2019, the parents said.

Nima and Dawa are the first conjoined twins in the country. They were born in July 13, 2017 at Phuentsholing General Hospital. The identical twins were joined at the lower chest, just above the pelvis and shared a liver.

Father Sonam Tshering, from Mongar, is a caretaker at the Punatsangchhu office in Phuentsholing. Bumchu Zangmo from Trashigang is a housewife.

After the birth of the conjoined twins, the family faced many hurdles as the twins had to be referred to National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu. 

The twins were then referred to the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) in Melbourne, Australia for a surgery. Children First Foundation (CFF) of Melbourne financed all the cost.

Bumchu Zangmo took the twins and left for Australia in October 1, 2018. They were separated after a six-hours surgery on November 9, 2019. After the surgery, they were kept under observation for few months until the family could return home on March 7, 2019.

Today, the girls are growing like any other children at the Punatsangchhu colony in Phuentsholing. They were also becoming naughty by the day, the parents said.

Bumchu said the sisters have been learning Tshangla and Dzongkha. Staying in Australia for a long time, the girls were more comfortable speaking English. Currently, the twin’s language is a mix of English and Tshangla.

If she wants to go out, Dawa calls out to her mother: “Out ga diley.” Yesterday, she was nagging her mother to take them to the park.

Bumchu said there were some changes in the twin’s individual behaviour. Dawa, the younger twin has become more proactive in socialising.

“She is also more caring towards her sister,” Bumchu said, adding that Dawa had not even started walking during her return from Australia. Nima has become more reserved and calm. She was healthier and more caring towards her sister before they were separated.

The twin’s four elder siblings help Sonam Tshering and Bumchu Zangmo. Bumchu’s mother is also in Phuengtsholing these days to help her with the girls.

“My husband goes to the office at 7 am and returns only at 8 pm. With the girls, it is quite a handful,” Bumchu said.

The only challenge the Nima-Dawa family is facing today is putting the twins to bed.

Sonam Tshering said: “They don’t sleep at all and keeps us awake.”

Sonam and Bumchu have not yet consulted a doctor. However, Nima and Dawa were like this and didn’t sleep properly even before their surgery and separation.

Bumchu said the girls were brilliant and learnt things quickly. But she is worried about how they might be able to cope when they go to school.

“They are not very friendly and do not easily mingle,” she said. “Daycare education is also expensive.”

The girls are two and a half years old today.