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SIAMESE TWINS IN LIFE-SAVING SEPARATION OP; Docs act after condition worsens.

Byline: BY EMILY COOK HEALTH CORRESPONDENT

SURGEONS last night carried out an emergency operation to separate six-day-old conjoined twins.

Faith and Hope Williams, who are joined from their breastbone to their navel and share a liver, were expected to have surgery later this week.

But surgeons decided to operate yesterday after their condition worsened. Laura Williams, 18, the world's youngest mother of conjoined babies, agreed.

A hospital spokesman said: "The separation of Faith and Hope has been brought forward after some concerns developed on Monday night. Obviously, the final decision about separation surgery was made by the family."

The operation is being carried out at Great Ormond Street children's hospital in London, the European leader in separation surgery. Laura learned she was having the conjoined twins after a routine scan at 12 weeks. She and binmen husband Aled, 28, of Shrewsbury, Shrops, went against medical advice to abort.

Laura had the twins by caesarean a week ago. Laura, who also has a 18-month-old daughter Carly, said after the births: "They're little fighters. They have all their own limbs and their own hearts.

"The only thing they share is the liver and as that's the only major organ that can regenerate, the doctors can split it between the two of them and it will grow back."

Surgeon Prof Agostino Pierro had warned that complications with their hearts and shared circulation with their blood vessels joined at the liver and intestine could mean an emergency separation.

He added: "Although the team would prefer to leave surgery until the children are older and stronger, increasingly we believe that this may be risky."

Conjoined twins are rare and take place at the rate of about one in 200,000 live births.

They occur when the single egg from which identical twins develop fails to divide properly after conception, and it usually happens in women aged 25 to 40 years old.

The prospects for conjoined twins vary widely according to how well the children are and in particular how they are joined, and what organs are joined or shared.

The girls are in good hands - Great Ormond Street is the most experienced centre in Europe for separating twins.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 3, 2008
Words:370
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