RIYADH, (Reuters) – Iraqi conjoined twins undergoing a 21-hour separation operation in Saudi Arabia are both expected to survive, a hospital spokesman said on Saturday as the surgery entered its final stages. “The girls are stable now, and we are approaching stage 8 of 10 stages, which is that of complete separation … Then they will be placed on separate tables and their wounds will be dealt with by plastic and paediatric surgery,” said Sami al-Shalan of the National Guard Hospital.
“There is now more than a 70 percent chance of success, that both girls survive,” he said. “This is considered one of the most difficult operations of its kind because so many organs are shared.”
The 11-month-old twins Zahra and Fatima Haidar share the same liver, colon, anus, urinary and genital system and are joined at the chest, abdomen and pelvis.
Their case has attracted media attention because they are from Sadr City in Baghdad where sectarian fighting has taken the country to the brink of civil war. Saudi state television has carried parts of the operation live. “The parents made an appeal on Iraqi television. When King Abdullah heard about it he directed us to bring them to Saudi Arabia for the possibility of separation,” Shalan said.
The Saudi team, led by surgeon Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, has performed 11 separations of conjoined twins, with a 100 percent success rate so far.