LIMA, March 6 (Reuters Life!) - Peru’s “Little Mermaid” walked at her first day of kindergarten on Thursday, more than two years after she captured the Andean country’s attention when doctors performed a risky surgery to separate her fused legs.
Milagros Cerron, 4, whose first name means “miracles” in Spanish, was born with a rare defect called Mermaid syndrome, or sirenomelia, which is often deadly.
She is thought to be one of just three survivors of the disorder in the world.
“We never thought she would go to school,” said Dr. Luis Rubio, one of the surgeons who have cared for her since infancy. “Normally babies like her die within 72 hours of birth.”
The smiling, cherubic girl with big eyes and brown hair was delighted to go to her first day of kindergarten, and almost danced with her peers.
“She’s a very happy child who likes to play with her friends,” said Ricardo Cerron, her father.
Before her four-hour operation, Milagros’ legs were trapped in a sack of tissue and fat down to her heels. Her feet were splayed in a “V” that looked like a mermaid’s tail.
Rubio said doctors are monitoring how well her only kidney functions. They plan more surgeries to reconstruct her groin area as Milagros lacks control of her bladder.
Her father worries she will need a kidney transplant. She made an attempt to go to school last year but illness kept her at home after a few days.
“She suffers a lot of infections,” her father said. “I hope we can receive help for her from other countries.”
Reporting by Carlos Valdez and Terry Wade; Editing by Dana Ford and Patricia Reaney