January 27, 1996
Web posted at: 9:30 p.m. EST
SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- As doctors Saturday night were announcing the successful surgery to separate Siamese twin girls, another doctor walked in and said that one of the girls -- the one born with the weaker heart -- had died.
Sarahi Morales died within an hour of surgery that separated her from her sister Sarah.
The conjoined twins were surgically separated at Children's Hospital in San Diego in an operation that went ahead of schedule and smoother than expected, according to a spokesman.
Both babies were in stable condition as of 6 p.m. EDT Saturday, with the operation nearing completion, said hospital spokesman Ken Allen.
The 2-week-old twins were born joined at the chest and abdomen, but with separate lungs and hearts. Although Sarah's heart was thought to be stronger than Sarahi's, two hours into the operation, doctors discovered Sarahi's heart was beating more strongly than expected. Sarahi has a heart lesion and had the least chance of survival.
The tiny twins went into the operating room about 8 a.m. for preparations to ensure that they remained in a sterile environment after the separation. The surgery began about 10:30 a.m. and was expected to take 7 1/2 hours.
Doctors had to separate two blood vessels connecting the twins during the operation, a procedure that have could affected Sarahi's heart.
Doctors also discovered that the twins' livers were connected in a way more complicated than tests had indicated.
Sarah was given an excellent chance of surviving.
The twins were born in Tijuana, Mexico, to Miguel Morales and Maria Espinoza, who earn less than $50 a week and are not eligible for California medical benefits because they live in Mexico.
They cannot afford to pay for the $100,000 surgery, but donations have been coming in from around the United States. Doctors and nurses are donating their services to the family.
The family told doctors that they wanted to "keep their thoughts to themselves" for the time being and did not want to speak with reporters.
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