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Conjoined Twin Dies from Organ Failure

A conjoined twin separated from her sister in a delicate operation last Thursday has died, Fudan University Children's Hospital said yesterday.

Doctors said they were unable to save 11-month-old Hu Jingxuan after she suffered multi-organ failure yesterday afternoon.

Since her separation surgery, Hu has been much weaker than her sister, Chen Jingni, who doctors said yesterday had regained consciousness and was beginning to breathe by herself.

"The success in separating the two girls was already a milestone," said Gui Yonghao, the hospital's president. "Ensuring their survival after the surgery has been another difficult challenge. Hu has always been in a critical condition, because her condition is worse than her sister's."

Both twins were born with a congenital heart disease. But Chen Jingni's disease is common and curable while Hu's was far more serious, said Dr Tao Qilin from the hospital's cardiac-surgery department.

Tao said she may only have lived as long as she did because her conjoined sister's heartbeat helped keep her alive.

"Even if she were not a conjoined child, her chance of surviving this disease is less than 10 percent within one year if she does not get surgery," Tao said. "The reason Hu lived for 11 months before surgery was because of the support of Chen's heart."

The twins' mother, Chen Yanfen, from Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, was with Hu during her final minutes and changed the dead girl into a new set of clothes, a Chinese custom.

The twins, who were born on August 24 last year in a Shanghai maternity hospital, were operated on for nearly 13 hours. Doctors separated the infants at the bladder, uterus, pelvis, intestines, liver and the sac that covers the heart.

(Shanghai Daily July 11, 2006)

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