Indian conjoined twins can be separated in U.S.

A leading American neurosurgeon examined 10-year-old conjoined twin sisters to assess whether they can be surgically separated in the United States, according to officials at a New Delhi hospital.

Dr. Benjamin Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, part of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, supervised tests on sisters Saba and Farah, who share kidneys, an artery that carries blood to their hearts and a blood drainage vessel in the brain.

Carson was assessing whether they can be surgically separated and if they are fit enough to travel to the United States for such an operation, said a hospital official who did not want to be identified because she was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

If performed, the surgery would be paid for by Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who first read of the twins in a newspaper report.

The girls' father, a restaurant-owner in the impoverished northern state of Bihar, cannot afford the expansive operation.

Doctors have said that a major concern is separating the brain circulatory system. Because the girls share a major blood drainage vessel in the brain, the surgical team may need to graft blood vessels from other parts of their bodies to give them individual drainage vessels.

An added complication is that one of the girls, Farah, has two kidneys while the other, Saba, has none.

Most conjoined twins - one in 2 million births - are stillborn. Out of those born alive, some 60 percent die within hours or days after the birth. The number for those surviving more than a year worldwide is believed to be between 10 and 20, the AP reports.

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