The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fused Iranian twins ponder separation

Singapore, Dec 3 (Reuters): Iranian twin sisters joined at the head for 28 years said today they felt no fear as Singapore doctors put them through a battery of tests to decide whether to try to separate them in a unique operation for adults.

Twins fused at the head occur only once in every two million live births, and successful separation is even rarer. Singapore doctors performed the feat last year on infant girls from Nepal.

Laleh and Ladan Bijani have undergone exhaustive tests since arriving in Singapore on November 20 in hopes of eventually leading separate lives.

“They seem to be two separately functioning brain units but encased within a single bony structure,” Raffles Hospital neurosurgeon Keith Goh, who would head the medical team, said today. “The problem is that after 28 years of (the brains) lying in such close proximity and right next to each other, there will be connections that will have to be disconnected.”

The petite Bijani sisters, clad in identical khaki pantsuits and a matching headscarf, waved and smiled as they walked into the conference accompanied by a female friend from home.

“We have no fear or anxiety whatsoever, and that is because from the beginning Dr Goh has given us a lot of hope,” said Ladan in her native tongue, Farsi, through an interpreter.

“We feel very optimistic about our case, about our situation, and about the operation.”

The law graduates, who occasionally suffer from severe headaches, were turned away by German doctors in 1996 after tests showed that separating them could be fatal.

In April 2001, doctors at Singapore General Hospital separated the fused skulls and intertwined brains of 11-month-old Nepali girls Jamuna and Ganga Shrestha in a four-day operation.

Goh was the lead surgeon for the Nepali twins. Differences between the Bijani sisters pushed them to think about separation. “We are two completely separate individuals who are stuck to each other,” said Ladan, the more extrovert of the sisters. “We have different world views, we have different lifestyles, we think very differently about issues. We believe it’s all in God’s hands and after God we rely on the doctors,” Ladan said.

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