- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
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 July 25 , 2003 

Double Death: Siamese twins birth and death separate family

Medics used all available technology to help the twins during their first hours of life.

Recently while the world's attention was directed at reports from Iran of Siamese twins being separated, Armenia had its own similar news.

On July 6 the first recorded Armenian Siamese twins were born at Yerevan Center of Perinatology, Gynecology and Obstetrics.

Twins were expected, but physician Anahit Mkhchyan who performed the Cesarean operation was shocked to find them joined at the stomach. The babies weighed only 1,700 grams each.

It was quickly determined that the twins shared only one set of vital organs and emergency surgery would be required.

"One of the children that was the first to come, when it was still not known that they were joined was strongly pulled and her state was comparatively worse than the condition of the other," explains Nikolay Dallakyan, chief pediatrics surgeon. "This is the reason we had to make a rather bold decision 10 hours after the operation, which was to separate them."

The babies had a single heart vessel system, one liver, one duodenum and the fact that the other important organs were one-for-two was making it clear that only one of them could survive. But the separating operation is usually held later, when the children have developed more. In the case of the Armenian twins, however, the circumstance was too critical to delay.

The baby girls were separated and, as expected, one died. The other rather miraculously survived, and after nine days was switched from full to partial artificial respiration. But after two weeks and three operations, she also died of complications.

Doctors say it was against incredible odds that either of the babies lived for even two weeks.

And while the unusual birth might have advanced medical science in Armenia, reaction from the family was not a shining moment for cultural awareness. Even while the babies were struggling, the grandparents were calling them "the devil's babies" and told doctors they would not pay for their treatment and would not allow them to be taken home.

Further, as a result of the Siamese birth, the father denounced and divorced his wife.

It was the first childbearing for the mother (who asked not to be named).

"Not only have I lost my two children but my husband as well," she said. "My entire family is lost."

According to Agnes
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Double Death: Siamese twins birth and death separate family.

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