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The BBC's Fergus Walsh
"Prompted an intense moral and ethical debate"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 30 August, 2000, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Parents to fight Siamese girls ruling
St Mary's Hospital, Manchester
The girls are being treated at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester
A High Court decision to allow surgeons to separate two Siamese girls against their parent's wishes is to be appealed.

The parents of the two girls will launch their appeal on Monday.

It follows a landmark decision last week which gave surgeons permission to carry out an operation to separate the girls.

The parents of the twin girls, who come from Eastern Europe, had objected to the operation on the grounds that it will mean the death of one of their babies.

Surgeons will not perform the operation until the legal position is made clear.

The Official Solicitor who represents the children - now three weeks old - will monitor the case but won't launch a separate appeal.

A spokesman for the Lord Chancellor's Department said: "The Official Solicitor will not be making a separate appeal but the Healthcare Trust and the Official Solicitor will be represented in the appeal hearing."
Mr Justice Johnson
The ruling to operate was made by Mr Justice Johnson

The twin girls, Jodie and Mary - false names used by the judge to preserve their anonymity - were born on 8 August at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester and are joined by their lower abdomens.

The girls share one heart and one pair of lungs. If the operation goes ahead to separate them, Mary will die.

In the first ruling of its kind in the UK, Mr Justice Johnson said he made his decision to approve the operation on the grounds that if the girls were not separated, both would die within months.

This is because Jodie's heart and lungs will not be able to take the strain of supporting her sister's body.

But in their submission to the court, the girls' parents said they could not contemplate the death of one of their babies.

"We cannot begin to accept or contemplate that one of our children should die to enable the other one to survive. That is not God's will," they said.

Earlier this week, an Italian cardinal was reported to have offered a "safe haven" to the family.

Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, Archbishop Emeritis of Ravenna, in north-east Italy, gave the parents an "ethical alternative" to going through with the operation, according to ProLife Alliance.

The offer included "indefinite and completely free medical services" as well as an apartment in an Italian hospital, it said.

Their mother and father came to the UK after they realised the babies were joined, because there was a lack of medical facilities in their remote community in Eastern Europe.

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See also:

26 Aug 00 | Health
Twins' operation on hold
25 Aug 00 | Health
Siamese twins 'must be separated'
25 Aug 00 | Q-S
Siamese twins
14 Jul 99 | Health
Twin trouble
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