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Bitter father mourns twins

Tehran, July 9 (Reuters): The man who brought up the two Iranian sisters who died yesterday during marathon surgery in Singapore to separate their fused heads told of his deep sadness — but also bitterness and anger — at their deaths.

“We shared a house for 27 years and I feel a great emptiness,” said Alireza Safaian, who adopted twins Ladan and Laleh Bijani, as children.

A doctor himself, Safaian wept as he spoke at his home in southwestern Tehran of his grief and distress at the decision of his daughters and the Singapore doctors to go ahead with an operation other surgeons had deemed simply too risky.

“When they took them to Singapore, I knew they would bring back their bodies. They took them there and killed them,” he said, re-playing home videos of the twins playing as youngsters.

“Me and my brother, who is a doctor in Germany, we told everyone that this separation surgery was impossible.”

“Nobody would listen to us.”

But the twins, who had not been in contact with their adoptive family for 18 months, always said they knew the risk involved. Last month, the pair, both law graduates with career ambitions, said they were willing to face death for the chance to live separately after years of compromise and sacrifice.

But Safaian’s son Ramin, their adoptive brother, said he felt his sisters had been ill advised to submit to surgery: “It was their own decision to go there. But they were not doctors or experts to understand. They just wanted to be normal people.”

Safaian said his wife needed medication to calm her down when she was told that first Ladan then Laleh was dead.

Playing videos of the twins as young girls, with one riding a bicycle and one running alongside, he said: “When I adopted them, nobody wanted them, not even their real parents.”

“I adopted them while they were not in good health and they were so skinny and weak. I am missing them so much.”

In Singapore, two coffins draped in black sheets embroidered with gold lay on the floor of a mosque today as mourners bade farewell to Ladan and Laleh, whose lives as conjoined twins ended after a pioneering separation operation.

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