Iranians Prepare to Mourn Separated Twins
ALI AKBAR DAREINI
Jul. 12, 2003
LOHRASB, Iran (AP _ Mourners adorned lamp posts with pictures and posted signs expressing condolences as workers cleaned up separate graves before the funeral Saturday for 29-year-old twins joined at the head who died during separation surgery.
Tuesday's deaths of Ladan and Laleh Bijani after 54 hours of surgery in Singapore caused sadness around the world but particularly in Iran, where the twins grew up.
A government official proposed a ``National Day of Love'' for the twins' Dec. 31 birthday. Rahim Ebadi, head of the National Youth Organization, made the proposal in a letter to President Mohammad Khatami, the English-language Iran Daily reported.
In their wills, they donated their belongings to blind children and orphans.
The girls left Lohrasb, 680 miles southwest of Tehran, at a young age and grew up in the capital.
The bodies of the twins arrived in Iran on Thursday and were taken from the capital in two Red Crescent Society ambulances, accompanied by dozens of vehicles, to a morgue in a town near the village before Saturday's funeral.
The sisters left Iran seven months ago to prepare for the operation, insistent on the surgery despite the risks. Before the operation, they joked and said they wanted to look each other in the face without a mirror.
A neurosurgeon who assisted in the attempt to separate them said Friday the operation should have been done in stages over a several weeks.
Performing the surgery as a marathon procedure felt like ``heading into a dark jungle to hunt a hungry tiger with no gun,'' said Dr. Benjamin Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore.
It was the first time surgeons had tried to separate adults joined at the head. The surgery had been performed successfully on infants, whose brains can more easily recover.