Surviving Nepalese conjoined twin likely to undergo more surgery

Singapore - A surviving Nepalese conjoined twin is likely to return later this year to Singapore for an operation that will give her a bone-like covering to protect the top of her head, a neurosurgeon said Thursday.

Jamuna Shrestha, whose 8-year-old sister, Ganga, died Tuesday in a Kathmandu hospital, needs a cranioplasty, said Dr Keith Goh, one the lead doctors in the 97-hour surgery performed in 2001 to separate the sisters, who were joined at the head.

The hole is now covered only by a flap of skin, Goh said. An operation will improve Jamuna's blood circulation and also her health.

The grueling surgery seven years ago on the girls involved separating their entwined brains and blood vessels, generating an outpouring of international attention. Some doctors from abroad said that the separation was impossible.

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

The surgery left Ganga's brain damaged until her death. Jamuna is unable to walk and gets around by dragging herself using one good arm and leg.

Goh, now at East Shore Hospital, told The Straits Times that he will again waive his fees and is confident of enlisting the help of an anaesthetist and plastic surgeon willing to waive their charges.

In outlining the surgery, Goh said it will be possible to use one or two of Jamuna's ribs to build a scaffold where the skull is missing, and to use stem cells to grow bone in the spaces in between, the report said. (dpa)