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Separated Siamese Twins Surviving

May 9, 2001

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SINGAPORE (AP) _ Siamese twin girls born joined at the head have survived the crucial first month after surgery to separate them, their doctor said Tuesday.

``Just for them to survive the surgery is a milestone. For them to survive the first month is a second milestone,″ said neurosurgeon Keith Goh, one of 20 doctors who worked 96 hours to separate Nepalese twins Ganga and Jamuna Shrestha, who were born with their brains partially fused.

``They’re doing as well as we can expect,″ Goh said.

The girls, who come from a poor mountain village in Nepal, turn 1 year old on Wednesday.

The surgery made worldwide headlines as one of very few times that Siamese twins joined at the head were successfully separated.

Doctors waited tensely as Ganga and Jamuna battled infections and fevers during the first weeks after the surgery.

Ganga, the feistier of the two, suffered more from surgical wound infections because she needed more scalp reconstruction work and skin grafts, Goh said.

``The problems with the skin cover came in and she went through a stormy period. The storm was quite bad,″ Goh said.

Her condition is now stable, Goh said. Her sister, Jamuna, has been recovering more quickly and eating some solid food.

The girls’ physical development has been slowed by the fact that they were joined for 11 months, which limited their mobility, Goh said. He said therapists will have to start by teaching Ganga and Jamuna things such as rolling over.

``These kids don’t even know how to hold up their heads,″ Goh said.

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