Fri, 17 Mar 2000

Siamese twins to return home in a week: Doctors

JAKARTA (JP): Six-month-old Siamese twin boys who have successfully undergone surgery for their separation are expected to leave Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital within a week, their doctors said.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, the team of doctors, including the hospital's director, Hermansyur, said the two-hour operation on Barkah and Slamet was carried out on Feb. 28 after five months of observation and treatment.

The twins were congenitally joined at the abdomen.

"The most critical time during the surgery was the separation of their livers, which needed an incision of 44.5 square centimeters," Hermansyur said.

He said the livers were united but there were separate veins and intestines.

"The operation costs, including medical treatment before and after the surgery, totaled Rp 100 million (US13,500), with the entire amount covered by the hospital."

Hermansyur added that the treatment and operation on the twins, who were born to relatively poor Bekasi parents, involved a team of more than 80 doctors and nurses from different departments, including plastic surgery, radiology, anesthesiology and pathology.

The twins have not shown complications from the surgery.

"There was only minor bleeding on the first day after the operation, which has already been cured," Hermansyur said, adding that the babies' organs were functioning well.

The boys were born by caesarean section on Sept. 12 last year at Hermina Hospital in Bekasi, east of here, with a total weight of 5.1 kilograms and 48 centimeters in length.

Three days after the birth, the two were admitted to Cipto Mangunkusumo for treatment prior to the operation.

On the day before the February operation, the boys had gained an extra 14 kilograms since their birth, Hermansyur said.

Their housewife mother, Fatonah, 25, also attended the meeting. Absent was her husband, Sardi, 30, now a conductor on a public bus.

Fatonah said Sardi was an ojek (motorcycle taxi) driver until they decided to sell the vehicle to cover the hospital bills of their twins before the boys were admitted to Cipto Mangunkusumo.

The couple has a six-year-old daughter.

Fatonah recalled: "When I was told by a doctor that I would have twins, I had nothing to say because I knew that it would require a lot of money."

BArkah and Slamet are the 14th Siamese twins handled by teams of doctors at the state Cipto Mangunkusumo hospital. (06)