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A little light in the gloomy world
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 22 - 03 - 2011

n Another successful Saudi operation to separate twinsAMID the turmoil in the region and the disaster and death in the Far East, is a story that adds a little light to all the darkness.
It's been yet another successful effort by a team of medical experts, led again by Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeah, Minister of Health, to separate conjoined twins – also known as Siamese Twins. It took about 12 hours to complete the surgery to separate Algerian twins Ekram and Sarah at Riyadh's National Guard Hospital recently.
The twins were joined at the anus, rectum, urethra and vagina. It took at least three hours for neurosurgeons to separate the spinal cord. The marathon surgery was conducted in eight phases by a multidisciplinary medical team including urologists, pediatricians and plastic surgeons.
Saudi Arabia is well-known for its world-class facility that has been separating conjoined twins free-of-charge for a considerable amount of time. There have already been 48 sets of conjoined twins successfully separated from countries such as Sudan, Yemen, Egypt, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Morocco, Iraq, Cameroon, Oman, Jordan and Syria.
In addition, the cost of the expensive surgery is borne by the government. This is a welcome relief for many parents, who have certainly either not been able to bear the cost, or would have had to place themselves deep in debt to have the surgery performed.
How wonderful it must be for the little babies because they may now be able to grow up and lead more normal lives. They will be spared many taunts and discrimination.
Spare a thought for what it must have been like for other Siamese twins years back when surgery was not possible.
Chang and Eng Bunker, the most famous of conjoined twins, born in Siam (1811 to 1874), now Thailand, lived rather better lives than most Siamese twins in those days. They were joined by a band of flesh, cartilage and fused livers at the torso and would have been easily separated today. Part of their life they traveled as freaks, as part of P.T. Barnum's circus, for many years and were known as the Siamese Twins. Even so, they did marry and had 21 children between them with a pair of sisters.
An easier life is expected for the many children separated in this country. We commend the minister and his team for the tremendous work they are doing to bring light and joy to many families around the globe.
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