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The BBC's Health Correspondent, James Westhead
"The next few days are critical for Jodie"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 7 November, 2000, 02:05 GMT
Marathon op to separate twins

Jodie and Mary are joined at the abdomen
Surgeons have operated to separate Siamese twins Jodie and Mary, but it is still not clear if the procedure has been successful.

The marathon operation was scheduled to have been completed at about midnight on Monday.

It is thought likely that the weaker twin Mary would not have survived the operation at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester, which is expected to give Jodie the chance of a relatively normal life.

The hospital authorities are expected to make a statement about the operation on Tuesday morning.

At this time our thoughts are with the family and the surgical team.

St Mary's Hospital spokesman
A hospital spokesman said on Monday that the operation was expected to last 15 hours and include a team of 20 staff.

An expert in the separation of conjoined twins, Professor Lewis Spitz of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, warned on Monday that the surgeons had to be ready to deal with the unexpected during the operation.

He said: "Whatever investigations have been carried out prior to the operation, the surgeons have to be aware that they may come across something they did not anticipate beforehand.

Lewis Spitz
Professor Spitz: "Surgeons face mammoth task"
"This may have to be dealt with at the time and may change the schedule of the operation completely."

On Friday, the Pro-Life Alliance failed in two court attempts to halt the operation.

A spokesman said on Monday: "Mary's life is being extinguished not because she is a conjoined twin, not because her heart beats inadequately, not because Jodie's life is under threat, but because she is mentally impaired and her life is deemed of no intrinsic value."

Doctors always intended to carry out the separation on the twins, who were born in August, during the first three months of their lives.

The surgeons have to be aware that they may come across something they did not anticipate

Professor Lewis Spitz, Great Ormond Street Hospital
The separation is the climax to a legal battle which started after doctors sought permission from the High Court to carry out the operation against the parents' wishes.

On Friday, the High Court, followed by the Court of Appeal, rejected an application to have Official Solicitor Laurence Oates removed as Mary's legal guardian and replaced by the Pro-Life Alliance's director, Bruno Quintaville.

The twins' parents are devout Roman Catholics from the Maltese island of Gozo, who are opposed to the operation on religious grounds.

In September they launched a privately-funded appeal against the High Court decision which they subsequently lost.

TV deal

The twins were joined at the abdomen with arms and legs at right angles to their conjoined upper bodies, while their spines were fused.

Weaker twin Mary was described as having "primitive brain" functions while Jodie is thought to have normal mental functions.

Mary was draining the life from her sister as she relied on her for oxygen and blood circulation.

It has been reported that their parents have agreed a TV deal with Granada to appear on Tonight with Trevor McDonald.

The money they receive for the interview is expected to be put into a trust to pay for Jodie's medical care following the separation operation.

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See also:

03 Nov 00 | Health
Bid to stop Siamese twin op fails
29 Sep 00 | Health
Jodie and Mary: The operation
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