Monday, July 07, 2003

I've been thinking about this wierd situation all weekend, ever since I heard a brief NPR bit on it. 29-year-old Iranian sisters, siamese twins joined at the side of their heads, want an operation to separate them. They are now getting that operation (in fact, it may even be proceeding as I write this). Ananova seems to be posting on this frequently (search on singapore iranian siamese twins, for example).

One interesting aspect is that "German doctors refused to operate". "German doctors told the twins in 1996 that the shared vein, which drains blood from their brains, made surgery too dangerous". I'm curious about that. How many doctors refused? Did they refuse because of personal reasons (I can easily imagine not wanting to perform an operation that carried such a risk of killing the patients, out of concern for my own mental health). Or did they refuse because they felt that the sisters, otherwise healthy if unhappy, should not choose to undergo such a risky operation? Did the doctors' refusal have anything to do with their being German, by which I mean are there national laws about what risks may be taken in surgery? Where does a surgeon draw the line? I assume most surgeons would refuse to perform trepanation. I bet most people would disapprove of a surgeon who did agree to perform trepanations. This situation has some eery similarities.

I hate to think of what the womens' life is like. "After a lifetime of compromises on everything from when to wake up each day to what city to live in, the pair have decided they would rather risk death - or being left brain dead - than go on living joined together." They're both lawyers. Of course they would have to have the same degree from the same school. How did they pick law? I hope they both liked it! Now they are "very keen" on the separation so they can pursue ambitions in separate cities in Iran. Best of luck to Ladan and Laleh.

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