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Indian sisters will remain conjoined
( 2003-07-12 14:54) (Agecies)

A pair of Indian sisters joined at the waist have decided not to seek separation surgery following the deaths of conjoined Iranian twins during a marathon, historic operation this week.

Ayara and Jayara Ratun, born to a peasant family in West Bengal, travel around India as exhibits in fairs to support themselves. The 34-year-old sisters, who share a pair of legs, were in Ahmadabad when they heard 29-year-old Ladan and Laleh Bijani of Iran died during surgery in Singapore.

The deaths of the Iranian twins, who were joined at the head, convinced the Indian women they should not pursue the risky surgery, Ayara Ratun said Thursday.

"If God has made us this way, then this is how we should remain together forever," she said.

When the Indian sisters were born, doctors told their parents the girls could live a normal life if they survived past three months. Ayara said she understood the motivation of the Iranian twins.

"They must have known the dangers of what they were trying to achieve," she said, adding, "Their death came as a shock to us."

The phenomenon of conjoined twins two bodies joined in the womb occurs in 1 in every 2.5 million births, said Dr. Muralidhar Pai, a neurosurgeon at the Kasturba Medical College who separated two baby girls joined at the head in the southern Indian city of Mangalore.

"Most attempts of separation lead to the death of both the children," Pai said. "Even saving one child during the separation is so uncommon that it remains a surgically challenging proposition."

In Iran, hundreds of people dressed in black paid respects to the Bijanis' parents as the sisters' caskets arrived Friday in their home province of Fars.

Ladan and Laleh Bijani will be buried Saturday in the village of Lohrasb, 680 miles southwest of Tehran.

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