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Iranians in Singapore volunteer for blood donation to Laleh and Ladan

A large number of Iranian citizens residing in Singapore have volunteered to donate blood that might be needed during the historic separation surgery of the Iranian conjoined twins, Laleh and Ladan, IRNA reported from Kuala Lumpur.

Singapore's National Blood Transfusion Center announced here on Friday that following a request made for blood donation to help the Iranian conjoined twins that are attached to each other at the skull, during their separation surgery --Operation Hope--, a large number of Iranians residing in Singapore have volunteered for the purpose.

Speaking to the reporters on Friday, a spokesman for Singapore's Blood Transfusion Center said, "Our center was directed by Raffles Hospital authorities to ask for blood donation for the purpose, and our request in that regard was received warmly, particularly by the Iranians living in this country."

The 29-year-old conjoined twins - fused at their heads - have made the world sit up and take notice by defying doctors' warnings about the risks of surgery and remaining very firm about their desire for separation.

The operation will be carried out at Singapore's Raffles Hospital and neurosurgeon Dr Keith Goh will lead the 25-member operation team from Singapore, the United States, Japan, Nepal, France and Switzerland.

There will be up to 48 hours of actual surgery and Laleh and Ladan will be in a seated position for the operation. The law graduates have undergone intensive counselling about the risks of surgery, while during their seven-month stay in Singapore they have remained adamant to have the operation done.

"As we anxiously wait for our surgery ..., we have been praying every day for our operation. We are excited about it, as we've waited 29 years for it," they said in a letter, published recently.

"Both of us have started on this journey together and we hope that the operation will finally bring us to the end of this difficult path and we will begin our new and wonderful lives as two separate persons," they added.

The Siamese twins were turned away in 1996 by German doctors who thought the operation was too risky. Their doctors, however, believe in the success of the operation since they have anatomically intact and individual brains.

The downsides are related to the fact that Laleh and Ladan have a shared major vein and their brains, though fortunately lying side by side, are contained in a single skull case.

Moreover, the problems are different from the usual medical issues of life and death. Doctors are worried about consequences, complications, and the high risk of death or severe disability after the surgery.

They have also to consider whether the twins can handle the operation psychologically and cope with being separated from someone they have been with for the last 28 years.

Doctors at Ruffles Hospital have come to terms with all these questions, besides securing approval of Medical Ethics Committee which deals with the ethical question of high risk surgery when life is not at risk.

Singapore doctors performed the operation in 2001 on infant girls from Nepal, but experts say an operation on adults is unprecedented.

The functional anatomy of adult brains, they say, is different from infant brains, in which personality is still underdeveloped and the ability to recover is better.

Against these odds, doctors are working on the promise that both twins should have an equal chance of survival and have the adult sisters' dreams come true: Ladan wants to be a lawyer and Laleh likes to be a journalist.

There will be three stages in surgery: radiological test, neurosurgical separation of conjoined brains and reconstruction of the skin and soft tissues on the exposed area of their heads. The separated twins, doctors say, may have to to go a long period of rehabilitation.

Raffles Hospital has underwritten the twins' stay at the hospital as well as the previous costs of tests. Doctors will also waive their professional fees for the surgery.

However, it is estimated that the costs of separation surgery and postoperative care will amount to 500,000 US dollars and Raffles Hospital has set up the Medical Samaritan Fund to raise funds for the surgery.

Lending his experience and skill in separation surgery is the world's renowned neurosurgeon Dr Benjamin Carson, director of pediatrics neurosurgery at the John Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore.

Carson successfully separated a pair of craniopagus twins in Germany in 1987. In 1997, he led a team of South African doctors in the first successful separation of vertical conjoined twins.

... Payvand News - 7/4/03 ... --

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