BANGALORE, India – Nearly a week after surgeons removed the extra limbs from an Indian girl born with four arms and four legs, the bright-eyed 2-year-old made her first public appearance Tuesday after leaving the hospital's intensive care unit.
Swathed in blankets and lying on her father's lap, the girl, named Lakshmi, appeared before reporters without the extra limbs which had led some people in her rural village to revere her as an incarnation of the four-armed goddess she was named after.
Looking healthy and alert, Lakshmi had both of her legs in casts while her arms were free. After sitting for photographs, her parents quickly ushered her off the stage without speaking to reporters.
Lakshmi's doctors were encouraged by her progress and said she was responding well enough to treatment to leave the hospital's intensive care unit.
"She is coping very well and she is stable," said chief surgeon Dr. Sharan Patil. "Lakshmi is safe at the moment."
Lakshmi has begun eating solid food again and has been off her respirator since Friday, Patil said. He told ABC news that she has wiggled her toes and drank milk, as well.
"She might surprise all of us with making an attempt at walking within the next six weeks," he told ABC.
Lakshmi was born joined at the pelvis to a "parasitic twin" that stopped developing in her mother's womb. The surviving fetus absorbed the limbs, kidneys and other body parts of the undeveloped twin.
A team of more than 30 surgeons finished a 24-hour operation last Wednesday at a hospital in the southern city of Bangalore. They removed the extra limbs, transplanted a kidney from the twin and reconstructed Lakshmi's pelvic area.
But despite her swift progress, Patil cautioned that Lakshmi still had a long way to go toward a full recovery.
"We still have things to do, but so far, so good," he said.
Lakshmi will need further treatment and possible surgery for clubbed feet before she will be able to walk. Her wounds from surgery are still healing and Patil said they will continue to monitor her closely.
The casts on her legs are intended to keep her inverted feet straight and the legs together.
He did not say when she might be able to return home.
Children born with deformities in rural India like the remote village in the northern state of Bihar where Lakshmi comes from are often viewed as reincarnated gods.