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Siamese Twin Survivor Progresses

December 15, 2000

MANCHESTER, England (AP) _ A baby girl recently separated from her weaker conjoined twin sister after a 20-hour operation has made considerable progress, one of the doctors who performed the surgery said Friday.

The 4-month-old girl, Jodie, is behaving like a ``bright, alert and interested child,″ and at times appears twice her age, Adrian Bianchi said at an inquest into the death of her weaker sister, Mary, who never was expected to survive the operation in September.

``We expect her to lead a relatively normal and hopefully good quality life with her family,″ Bianchi said.

Jodie’s lower limbs are aligned normally, although with a degree of deformity, he said.

She also recovered well from a separate operation to cure an infection contracted 15 days after her birth, the doctor said.

Jodie and Mary were born with fused spines that left them joined at the abdomen. Doctors said both would die without the surgery but that separation would kill Mary, who was kept alive by Jodie’s heart and lungs.

The girls’ parents, a Roman Catholic couple from the Maltese island of Gozo, had opposed the separation on religious grounds. Doctors went to court to win the right to separate the girls.

The coroner, Leonard Gorodkin, said he accepted the decision of the courts that the operation causing Mary’s death was lawful _ a decision that followed painful debate over whether the two girls were separate individuals.

Gorodkin said he was sure the girls’ parents had been ``horrified″ at the discussion in the courts.

``For them, the twins were two persons,″ he said. ``For them, they clearly had two daughters who they loved equally.″

``I only hope that the love they clearly have for their surviving twin Jodie will bring them pleasure and joy in the future and will lessen the pain following the loss of Mary,″ he added.

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