Successful operation on separation of Milagros` legs

A team of 11 doctors at Lima's Solidarity Hospital took part in the operation, including &to=http:// 19/94/377/15234_liposuction.html ' target=_blank>plastic surgeons, pediatricians, and heart specialists. Thirteen-month-old Milagros Cerron was born with a rare congenital defect known as sirenomelia, or "mermaid syndrome," with her legs fused together from her thighs to her ankles.

The surgery was carried in a live, closed-circuit feed. Milagros' parents watched the procedure in a nearby room.

After four-and-a-half hours, doctors separated Milagros' legs, holding her up to show the line of stitches extending from her heels to her inner thighs. The procedure actually surpassed doctors' expectations. They had only planned to separate the girl's legs up to her knees, informs VOA News.

Rubio said Tiffany Yorks, a 16-year-old American girl with the same condition, was the only other known case of surgical correction of the congenital defect, which occurs in one out of every 70,000 births and is almost always fatal within seven days.

He said there is a third person living somewhere in Asia with the deformity, also known as ``sirenomelia,'' but that details about the person's identity and circumstances were sketchy.

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