Channel 4 to screen autopsy of foetus found inside brother

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The Independent Online

Channel 4 is to follow up its broadcast of an autopsy by Professor Gunther von Hagens by screening a second documentary showing the post-mortem examination of a boy who survived inside his brother for seven years.

Cameras will be present in two weeks to film the operation on the seven-year-old foetus from Kazakhstan as part of a series called Body Shocks to be screened this autumn.

Doctors are trying to discover the cause of a birth defect that left the boy with his twin brother living inside him. Alamjan Nematilaev, who is still alive, had complained of something moving around inside him before his "twin", who was alive at the time and had part of a head and teeth, was removed. The foetus, which measured 8ins, died during removal.

The condition is the result of a rare condition called foetus in fetu where one twin grows around the other at an early stage of development. The parents requested the autopsy because they believe the condition was caused by fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Simon Andreae, Channel 4's head of science and education, said: "Body Shocks is intended to explore stories that are at the cutting edge of human science, and this is a very strong storyline about an extremely rare case of so-called vanishing twin syndrome. There are several cases of adults having cysts removed that turn out to have hair and teeth, but scientists are baffled by how this particular foetus could have survived for seven years."

The Body Shocks series will also feature a film about children in Eastern Europe and America who have lived with animals at a young age.

Professor Gunther von Hagens, 72, performed Britain's first public autopsy for 170 years in November last year, with highlights shown on Channel 4. The broadcast prompted hundreds of complaints.

However the Independent Television Commission rejected the complaints because the programme had "approached the limits of what is allowed by the [ITC] programme code" but had not exceeded them.