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Doctors to separate Iranian sisters

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  • ummyakoub
    Conjoined twins in critical stage Dr. Alex Lee, left, and Dr. Ong Biauw Chi, right, work to separate the twins as the operation began in Singapore Sunday.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 8, 2003
      Conjoined twins in critical stage

      Dr. Alex Lee, left, and Dr. Ong Biauw Chi, right, work to separate
      the twins as the operation began in Singapore Sunday.

      Ladan, left and Laleh Bijani, both 29, said they'd rather risk the
      surgery than continue living joined together.

      Surgery to separate Iranian sisters could take 4 days


      SINGAPORE, July 7 — Neurosurgeons performing a dangerous,
      marathon operation to separate Iranian sisters joined at the head
      grappled Monday with rerouting a vein as thick as a finger that helps
      blood flow through the twins' brains.

      `While we are cautiously optimistic, there are some twists and turns
      that we will have to navigate.'
      — DR. PREM KUMAR
      AN INTERNATIONAL team of five neurosurgeons probed the
      brains of 29-year-old Ladan and Laleh Bijani as a crucial phase began
      in a historic operation expected to last two to four days, said a
      spokesman for Singapore's Raffles Hospital.
      Surgeons planned to begin separating the twins' brains later
      Monday after encountering an unexpected delay in cutting through the
      skulls when the bone turned out to be denser than previously thought,
      Dr. Prem Kumar said at a news conference.
      "The procedure took six hours — longer than originally
      expected — because the bones were thick and compact, especially in
      the areas where the two skull bones fuse," Kumar said.
      But he stressed the delay was not a problem.
      "While we are cautiously optimistic, there are some twists and
      turns that we will have to navigate. The twins are taking to the
      procedure quite well," he said.
      The operation could kill one or both of the sisters, but after
      a lifetime of compromising on everything from when to wake up to what
      career to pursue, the Bijani sisters said they would rather face
      those dangers than continue living joined.
      "Both of them have an equal chance (to live), we're giving
      them an equal chance, we're not compromising," Kumar said.
      The shared vein is the biggest obstacle in the surgery: Other
      than sharing the vein, the women's brains are not joined — though
      they touch inside their skulls. Their bodies are otherwise distinct.
      German doctors told the twins in 1996 that the shared vein,
      which drains blood from their brains, made surgery too dangerous.
      Doctors on Sunday removed a vein from Ladan Bijani's thigh and
      will use that to compensate for diverting the shared vein to one
      sister's brain. Doctors have not yet determined which sister will
      keep the finger-thick vein and which will receive the graft, Kumar
      Surgeons worked simultaneously in front of and behind the
      twins, who are sitting in a custom-built brace connected to an array
      of lines feeding them intravenously and monitoring their vital

      The twins spent months training at a gym to build up
      strength for the surgery and Kumar said they could be kept asleep for
      four days if necessary.
      The twins said they wanted to walk into the operating room as
      a sign of courage, but they were brought in by wheelchair because
      they were too tired to stand, Kumar said.
      The neurosurgeons are used to working 12-hour stretches
      without pause, Kumar said. Participating neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin
      Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins
      Children's Center in Baltimore, has successfully separated three sets
      of craniopagus twins — siblings born joined at the head.
      However, this is the first time surgeons have tried to
      separate adult craniopagus twins. The surgery has only been performed
      successfully since 1952 on infants, whose brains can more easily
      adapt and recover.

      Doctors work to separate Iranian sisters
      July 6, 2003 — Two adult sisters from Iran -- joined at the head --
      are undergoing surgery to be separated. But NBC's Don Lemon reports
      the procedure also carries with it the ultimate risk.

      "If God wants us to live the rest of our lives as two
      separate, independent individuals, we will," Ladan Bijani said before
      the operation.
      The Bijani sisters were born in Firouzabad in southern Iran in
      1974. In a statement read on state-run Iran television late Sunday,
      President Mohammad Khatami hoped for success.
      "The prayers of the Iranian nation are with you," Khatami said
      in a message addressed to the medical team. "I hope to see my patient
      daughters Laleh and Ladan healthy and fresh as soon as possible."
      An international team of 28 doctors and about 100 medical
      assistants were enlisted for the surgery. The $288,000 cost of the
      operation surgery is being underwritten by Raffles Hospital, and the
      doctors' fees are being waived.

      © 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material
      may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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