Now Lakshmi Tatma, the Indian toddler whose plight touched the world, has grown up and started school.
Two years after a ground-breaking operation to separate her from a parasitic twin, Lakshmi is a lively and bubbly four-year-old.
She loves playing cricket with her older brother, has a tendency to boss around her newfound friends and remains firmly a daddy’s girl.
‘When I think of the way she was, never in a million years would Lakshmi have been able to go to school or have the life she does today,’ said her mother Poonam, 26.’All the things she’s capable of now were impossible two years ago.’I often try to think what she might be like today if she hadn’t had the operation – she couldn’t even sit up before and now she runs around like other children.’Born in a dusty farming village in India’s poorest state, Lakshmi was revered as a deity and worshipped from birth.Villagers, who believed she was the reincarnation of the Hindu goddess of wealth and fertility, would seek her blessing daily and leave gifts at her bedside.But Lakshmi’s resemblance to her mythological namesake came at a terrible price. She could not walk, stand, or even sit.
The little girl was joined to a headless parasitic twin that had stopped developing in her mother’s womb. Doctors were convinced she could not have survived into adulthood.
Now fully recovered from the 27-hour operation to save her, Lakshmi is almost unrecognisable from her former self.
Beneath the surface, however, lurk a series of medical problems that threaten her future and will require years of surgery.