Conjoined twin dies seven years after 97-hour separation surgery

Singapore - A Nepalese conjoined twin who was separated seven years ago from her sister during 97 hours of surgery has died in a Kathmandu hospital, media reports said Wednesday.

Ganga Shrestha, 8, fell ill, was admitted to intensive care and diagnosed with meningitis. She died Tuesday, The Straits Times said.

Landmark surgery was performed in 2001 to separate Ganga and her twin, Jamuna, born joined at the head. The grueling surgery involving separation of the girls' entwined brains and major blood vessels attracted international attention, with some doctors abroad maintaining that the procedure could not be done.

More than 100 doctors and nurses participated in the surgery at Singapore General Hospital. More than 660,000 Singapore dollars (492,000 US dollars) was raised from public donations to pay for the twins' treatment.

The surgery left Ganga with brain damage and Jamuna unable to walk.

The girls went back to Nepal but returned in 2005 to Singapore. Neurosurgeon Keith Goh, a lead surgeon in the first operation, drained accumulated fluid that had doubled the size of Ganga's head. Jamuna's weak leg was also treated, and the twins returned to Nepal.

"I will always remember her feisty spirit," Goh was quoted as saying of Ganga. "At least, now, her spirit is free of her disabled body."

Jamuna still cannot walk and uses her arms to drag herself.

Sandhya Shretha, the 31-year-old mother, kept repeating, "Ganga is gone." (dpa)