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Sadness, mourning over Iranian twins' death

Singapore's President S.R. Nathan sent a message of condolence to Iranian President Seyed Mohammad Khatami late Tuesday for the deaths of twins Laleh and Ladan, saying he was deeply saddened by the loss, IRNA reported from Kuala Lumpur.

In a letter addressed to President Khatami, President Nathan said: "On behalf of the people and Government of Singapore, I would like to extend to the Iranian people and the family of Laleh and Ladan our heartfelt condolences. The people of Singapore share their loss."

He said the twins knew the operation was highly risky, but they wanted to go through with it in order to fulfill their hope of living separate lives.

President Nathan said both faced the challenge with remarkable fortitude, optimism and cheerfulness.

"All throughout, Laleh and Ladan Bijani have been a source of inspiration to others around them," he said, as reported by Singapore's TV channel, Newsasia, on Wednesday.

He said the multi-national medical team in Raffles Hospital did their best to fulfill the dream of Laleh and Ladan to live their lives as two separate individuals.

However, "it is with deep regret that their dream could not be realised."

For about 90 minutes on Tuesday, Ladan and Laleh Bijani, fused at the head since birth, lay on separate beds.

But they never got their wish to look at each other face to face, without a mirror.

Over 50 hours after the historic surgery to separate them began on Sunday and just after their tightly enmeshed brains were separated, both twins died. They had lost too much blood.

Ladan, always the more gregarious one who had wanted to be a lawyer in their home town of Shiraz, died at 2.30 p.m. (Singapore Time).

Her sister, Laleh, who wanted to be a journalist in Tehran, lost her fight too and died at 4 p.m.

Dozens of supporters, Iranian and Singaporean alike, wept openly when the news was announced at the packed Raffles Hospital lobby.

The twins' homeland of Iran was plunged into shock and grief after television there broke out of regular programming to announce the news, according to AFP.

Iranians were distraught, said Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, adding: "Those last 29 years, from the announcement of their birth to the different moments in their painful lives, have now been engraved in the collective memory of the country."

Plans are being made to fly the bodies back to Iran on Saturday.

As the marathon operation entered its third day on Tuesday, surgeons appeared optimistic.

Hospital spokesman Dr Prem Kumar Nair announced to the cheers of waiting friends and supporters early afternoon that the twins had been separated, but said that the sisters had lost a lot of blood.

"Please pray very hard for them," he said.

He returned at 2.30 p.m. to break the news that Ladan had died. And, despite the efforts of an international medical team of about 30 specialists and 100 assistants, Laleh also failed to pull through.

In the end, the complications faced in separating the blood flow through their closely connected brains proved fatal.

Raffles Medical Group Executive Chairman Loo Choon Yong told a press conference that the surgeons came to a crossroads at 6.30 p.m. on Monday, when they found that the new vein they had created in Ladan's brain, using a graft from her right thigh, was blocked.

The team reviewed the options available--stop the surgery, put the twins in intensive care, get them out of anaesthesia and plan the next stage, while risking infection and death, or press ahead with the final stage of the separation, which would be "very, very risky."

The doctors talked to the twins' closest friends again.

"The team wanted to know once again what were the wishes of Ladan and Laleh and we were told that Ladan and Laleh's wishes were to be separated under all circumstances," said Dr Loo.

Things started looking better as they proceeded and the sisters were separated.

But, as surgery continued, Ladan's blood circulation failed and she died. Laleh held on, but at about 3.45 p.m. her blood circulation also failed and she died 15 minutes later.

Said Dr Loo: "When we undertook this challenge, we knew the risks were great, we knew that one of the scenarios was that we may lose both of them.

"Ladan and Laleh knew it too. We were hoping and trying to do better than the worst odds but alas, we didn't make it."

Neurosurgeon Keith Goh, who led a team in 2001 that successfully separated Nepalese babies in a 97-hour operation, explained what went wrong this time round.

"The patterns of blood flow through such abnormally joined brains are hard to predict and when we went through all the final angiogramic studies on Saturday, we certainly did not see some of the features which we encountered during surgery."

He acknowledged that the debate over whether the surgery should have been done would now surface.

But he said: "Having seen and understood how these girls have suffered over the last 29 years, I think that together with me, many world-renowned experts decided to contribute their time and skills to try to give these girls a decent, normal life as we know it."

Khatami condoles with nation over death of conjoined twins

President Mohammad Khatami, in a message sent on Tuesday, condoled with the entire Iranian nation over the death of conjoined twins Laleh and Ladan Bijani, IRNA reported from Tehran.

He praised the two sisters for their courageous spirit which moved them to search for a better future despite having suffered so much.

The story of "our dearest Laleh and Ladan fills one sheet of the great book of destiny," the president said, adding that the "two sparrows" left the world a legacy of patience and tolerance which they endured all throughout their lives.

"I am quite sure that millions of hearts here in Iran and abroad who had been keeping vigil during all those moments and hoping desperately that the difficult surgical operation would be a success as well as all those involved in this operation were hoping for nothing but an easier and more enjoyable life for Laleh and Ladan, he further noted.

President khatami concluded his message with a prayer that the souls of the twins rest in peace.

The Iranian conjoined twins both died on Tuesday after a historic operation to separate then in Singapore's Raffles Hospital.

Ladan was the first to die from severe loss of blood after the separation was completed. Laleh died 90 minutes later for the same cause.

Two flowers - Laleh, Ladan - to be flown home, Iran ambassador

Iranian Ambassador to Jakarta Shaban Shahidi Moadab said in Singapore City on Tuesday that the bodies of Laleh and Ladan Bijani will be flown home, IRNA reported.

The Ambassador who flew from Jakarta to Singapore on Monday to convey President Mohammad Khatami's message to the two sisters under delicate surgery operation at Raffles hospital said in a news conference after their deaths, "Today these two flowers do not exist anymore."

The two sisters had been named after two flowers - Laleh, Ladan - in Farsi language.

"I believe they are not only two flowers but they were two flowers who flew from Iran to Singapore to submit to their destiny," he said in an emotional tone when he burst into tears.

... Payvand News - 7/9/03 ... --

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