Surving Siamese twin makes 'steady progress'

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Jodie, the Siamese twin who survived a separation operation that led to the death of her sister, was seriously ill last night and doctors are warning that the next 72 hours would be critical.

Jodie, the Siamese twin who survived a separation operation that led to the death of her sister, was seriously ill last night and doctors are warning that the next 72 hours would be critical.

Jodie is under constant observation during the critical first few days after the 20-hour operation to separate her from her weaker sister Mary, which began on Monday morning.

Her parents are keeping a vigil at her bedside in the intensive care unit of St Mary's Hospital in Manchester, where a spokeswoman said she was "critical but stable".

If Jodie survives, she will need extensive skin grafts and surgery, but doctors say she could be of normal intelligence, able to walk, and have an average life expectancy.

Professor Lewis Spitz, a paediatric surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, said Jodie would need "minute by minute" monitoring.

The surgeon, who has treated 17 sets of Siamese twins, said "little tricks" could lessen Jodie's stress at losing her twin. He said her fight for survival could be aided by a mirror in her bed to give her the impression Mary is still there.

The complex operation to separate Jodie and Mary, who were born with fused spines which left them joined at the abdomen, was completed at 5am on Tuesday.

It was opposed by their parents, who are strict Roman Catholics from the Maltese island of Gozo. Surgeons took their case to court and won the right to operate.

Mary was said to hyave been sapping the life from Jodie, whose heart and lungs were keeping both alive.

A spokeswoman for the Manchester coroner, Leonard Gorodkin, said an inquest into the death of Mary may be held early next month.

An inquest is a matter of course when a death is from unnatural causes.

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