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The BBC's John McIntyre
"The cat and mouse games with the media continue"
 real 56k

The BBC's Pierre Mejlak in Gozo
"The people are eagerly awaiting Gracie's return"
 real 28k

PR Consultant, Max Clifford
"The whole thing was an absolute nightmare but just for once there is a happy ending"
 real 28k

Sunday, 17 June, 2001, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Siamese twin returns home
Gracie Attard: Making headlines in Britain
Gracie Attard: Making headlines in Britain
The Siamese twin whose life was saved by an operation to separate her from her sister has returned home to the Maltese island of Gozo.

Gracie Attard flew out of Manchester Airport with her parents at 1100BST after leaving the city's St Mary's Hospital, where she had been cared for as "Jodie" since her birth 10 months ago.

The operation followed a court case in which her parents Michaelangelo and Rina Attard argued it was wrong for doctors to "play God" and decide that one sister should die.

This is the greatest Father's Day gift I could ever have wished for

Michaelangelo Attard, father
Despite their initial opposition, the couple have told newspapers they are relieved the judges stopped them from letting nature take its course, condemning both girls to death.

At the time the children were referred to as Jodie and Mary, but on Friday a judge lifted an order banning their identification and the first pictures of Gracie have been published in a deal thought to be worth an estimated 350,000.

The parents named the twin who died Rosie.

Mr Attard, 44, told the News of the World: "My wife Rina and I didn't want to separate them ever. It was against our strong religious beliefs.

"Of course we're now happy that we still have Gracie - this is the greatest Father's Day gift I could ever have wished for."

Trust fund

Mrs Attard, 29, told the Mail on Sunday: "We were upset that we lost the cases because we always thought we should have the right to say what was best for our children and that the taking of life was wrong.

"The decision was taken out of our hands in the end but we are happy that the decision to separate was taken by the judges."

The couple sold their story to pay for the expensive medical help Gracie will need during her life.

PR consultant Max Clifford, who represented the family, said: "The money is all going into a trust fund for her. She is obviously going to need a lot of medical attention."

Remarkable progress

Speaking from Manchester Airport, BBC correspondent John Thorne said the family's departure had been very low profile.

"Because they have sold their story to make sure of that trust fund, some 350,000 or more, clearly those who invested that sort of money wanted to keep their investment secret," he said.

Adrian Bianchi
Surgeon Adrian Bianchi brought the parents to England
He said Gracie could expect to remain in the spotlight in Gozo.

"I am sure that Malta is ready also to welcome her with a party. Clearly the whole thing is tinged with the sadness of her sister's death."

The twins were born last August. Their parents were brought to Britain in May 2000 by surgeon Dr Adrian Bianchi who heard about the case on a visit to Malta.

The twins were born with fused spines which left them joined at the abdomen and with their arms and legs joined at right angles to their upper bodies.

Rosie died, as expected, within hours of the operation and was buried earlier this year in Gozo.

Dr Bianchi said Gracie had made remarkable progress.

He told the BBC: "She uses her legs just like any other child. She is actually sitting up on her own, and she sits in her baby walker and pushes herself around."

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