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Conjoined Twin Girls Die in Texas

January 30, 2004

SAN ANTONIO (AP) _ Six-month-old conjoined twins were taken off of respirators and died after their parents and doctors determined the girls’ health was continuing to deteriorate and they would not improve.

Parents Dawn and Matt Smith decided to have their daughters Brynleigh and Victoria taken off ventilators Thursday night after consulting with doctors, the San Antonio Express-News reported in Friday editions.

``It was not just one thing,″ Dawn Smith told the newspaper. ``We had to look at the whole picture, at the whole package. They are incredibly sick. They can’t get off the ventilators. I think they are just telling me, Mommy, mommy, I’m tired. I want to rest. I want to go home.‴

The girls were born July 25 and have remained at Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base.

Connected from chest to belly, the girls were face to face, with their arms draped around each other. The girls shared a heart, liver, diaphragm and parts of their intestines.

Because of their continued dependence on ventilators and other medical problems, the girls never left the hospital.

``With no further options to increase support or relieve the underlying causes of their deterioration over the last three months, the medical staff and the parents agreed it was time to end the struggle and they were removed from life support,″ said Dr. William Lefkowitz, a Wilford Hall neonatologist.

After an autopsy, Brynleigh and Victoria’s lungs, heart and liver will be donated to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a center for conjoined twins study. Doctors there will use the organs to teach future doctors about conjoined cases.

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