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Joined Korean twins separated

Singapore, July 22 (Reuters): Singapore doctors today successfully separated two South Korean baby girls joined at the spine, barely two weeks after conjoined Iranian sisters died in an attempt to part them, attracting world attention.

“The Korean twins have been successfully separated at 0640 GMT this afternoon,” Raffles Hospital spokesperson Dr Prem Kumar Nair said. “The parents are with the twins and they are very happy,” Nair said, adding that the babies were in stable condition and would remain in intensive care for 48 to 72 hours.

The sisters, Ji Hye and Sa Rang, underwent the surgery lasting about five hours at Raffles Hospital, which is still dogged by controversy after an unprecedented and high-risk operation to separate the adult Iranian twins failed on July 8.

The surgical team for the latest operation, estimated to cost $28,500, was led by Dr Yang Ching Yu, deputy medical director of Raffles Hospital and consultant neurosurgeon Dr Keith Goh, who headed the failed surgery on the Iranian twins.

The Korean babies are joined at their lower backs and at an angle where neither can sit nor stand properly when they get older. The most delicate part of the surgery was to separate internal organs that were fused around the anal region. “The girls have to be be separated at this stage because if we wait any longer, they may develop severe skull and spinal deformities. Without separation, they will never walk normally again,” Dr Yang said in a statement.

Dr Joan Thong Pao-Wen, Raffles’ consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist who was on the medical team, said: “Everything went smooth, everything went so beautifully.”

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