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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Second Iranian Twin Dies in Separation Surgery

Aired July 8, 2003 - 05:49   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KRIS OSBORN, CNN ANCHOR: We have some more sad news to bring you this morning. CNN has learned that Laleh Bijani, the second twin, has died. Again, Laleh Bijani, the second twin among the two that were seeking this operation to be separated, has died. The first, Ladan Bijani, died earlier this morning.
Let's bring in David Clinch again to continue a discussion about this.

DAVID CLINCH, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL EDITOR: Yes.

OSBORN: Obviously a heartbreaking day for so many people.

CLINCH: We have just received news from the hospital in Singapore that the second Iranian twin has now died. The first sister, we were told, died a few hours ago after their brains had been separated. We had initially been told relatively successful part of the operation, their brains being separated. Almost immediately after that the first sister faded very quickly. The second sister, we're now told, has died as well.

They had significant problems, the medical team, as they were carrying out this operation of keeping the blood pressure levels reasonable for both sisters. They shared a major vein in the brain, which made it very, very difficult for the separation. More than just actually separating the brains, they also had to separate and share this vein afterwards in order for the surgery to be successful. It obviously has not been. Terribly sad news both twins now dead.

And as we were reporting earlier, this story has created significant interest here in the U.S. and around the world, but particularly in Iran where the sisters came from. The nation effectively in mourning, I am sure, right now.

The president himself had said that he had taken a personal interest in the story. His office was going to pay for any expenses related to the surgery. The doctors, the international team that put this surgery together that was carrying out this surgery, were not being paid for it. They had done this voluntarily, very high profile for them. Huge pressure on the medical team as they carried this surgery out. It's got to be very sad for them.

OSBORN: And extremely tragic, by any sense, but particularly in addition to the fact that, as you referred to, David, there was, at one point, cause for cautious optimism. They had gone, I understand, millimeter by millimeter through a very thick skull because, of course, this had never been attempted on adults. CLINCH: Right.

OSBORN: Never been successfully completed on adults, but in some cases with some younger people. In this case, they had made progress both in that respect and then also with rerouting that very thick vein, which reports were saying as thick as a finger, only to then find this predicament you describe which is the instability in the blood levels...

CLINCH: Right.

OSBORN: ... and the pressure between the two brains.

CLINCH: Right. And I should say...

OSBORN: You can only imagine how complicated this would be.

CLINCH: Absolutely. I should say I -- we do not know, at this point, precisely the cause of death. But obviously we do know that before the brains were complete -- the separation of the brains was completed, before this vein was separated, we do know that doctors had said they were having problems creating level blood pressure for both the twins. So that is a likely cause, I would suppose.

We will have, obviously, our expert, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in here...

OSBORN: Yes.

CLINCH: ... within the next few hours for "AMERICAN MORNING" to give us the details as he gets them directly from the team in the hospital. Hopefully we'll hear from the team in Singapore when they come out. I'm sure they themselves, the doctors, exhausted as they must be, will make a statement at some point later on.

And it did take a long time for this operation to happen. So, as you say, there was at one point reason for optimism. That obviously has not been the way it's turned out in the end and it's very sad, both sisters dead, and we will get the medical details as soon as we possibly can.

OSBORN: Thank you very much, very tragic, very difficult circumstance.

CLINCH: Yes, it is.

OSBORN: Yes.

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