Two-Faced Baby Triggers Shock and Awe

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Ask anyone along the dusty, pothole-filled road heading to the tiny village of Saini, and they'll know who she is. The one with four eyes. The one with two mouths. The one with two heads.

They are not ashamed of the extraordinary looking little girl, the villagers who live near her, the young parents, the overprotective local doctor. That's because while she may only be 2½ weeks old, she is far more famous than any resident of this part of the country has ever been. She is famous because she was born with a condition known as facial duplication. She has one body and two faces.

"At first I was a little bit afraid," Vinod Kumar Singh, the 24-year-old father of the girl who still does not have a name, told ABC News. "But then I accepted whatever God gives."

In this case, God has given what many in this rural part of India consider a reincarnation of Ganesh, the Hindu God who is half person and half elephant. At first, hundreds of locals came to Saini to touch the girl's feet, dance at her bedside and offer the family money, thinking she was as divine a person as they would ever see.

"People from corner to corner from all India and all abroad come here to take the knowledge about this child," said Harsharan Singh, the village math teacher. "It's a gift of God… Some people say she is like a goddess. They call the baby a face of a goddess."

Her two faces and the single dimple on their shared cheek are as placid as any baby's. She is the first child of a farming family, one of about 100 people living in a village 40 miles outside New Delhi. Here, the average income is less than $2 a day, and the locals either work the field or support those who work the field in any way they can.

During a recent visit by ABC News, villagers fanned the baby, swatting dozens of flies away so she could sleep. The village, like so many in India, is modest. There is no electricity, there are no toilets, and there is no technology.

The parents did not know that anything was wrong with their daughter until she was born. Tens of millions of pregnant women in rural India do not receive prenatal care.

"They're not aware enough that they should come in for treatment," said Dr. M. Ashmosd, the resident medical officer of nearby Saifi Hospital, where the girl was born.

Ashmosd was part of the team that delivered her vaginally. Still, he does not know the details of the baby's condition because the parents have not agreed to let the hospital perform a CT scan or an MRI on her head.

"I've told them we're ready to do the CT scan for free. But they have ignored me," he told ABC News.

Experts in the United States who have performed surgeries on children with similar conditions say they can't know what the baby's prognosis will be without scans.

"A brain MRI would be illuminating, to say the least. Without it we only can presume about what could be possible or what her quality of life would be with or without reconstructive surgery," Jorge Lazareff, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at UCLA Hospital in Los Angeles, told ABC News.

The parents and the villagers have turned inward. Visited by a dozen media outlets, they at first refused to allow an ABC News team to ask any questions or shoot any video, accusing reporters of "making stories for their own profit." Eventually, they relented, but the local doctor refused to allow the mother to speak and interrupted an interview with the father.

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