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Ladan and Laleh Bijani

Ladan and Laleh Bijani

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Ladan Bijani and Laleh Bijani (in Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

: ) (January 17, 1974 – July 8, 2003) were Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 graduates. They were conjoined twin sisters, joined at the head, who died after their complicated surgical
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

 separation. They died at 29 years of age.


They were born in Firouzabad, a city in southwest Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, to Dadollah Bijani and Maryam Safari, members of a farming family from Lohrasb. The Bijani sisters were lost in a hospital in 1979 after the doctor
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

s responsible for them fled back to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 during the Islamic revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

. The Bijanis' parents did not find the sisters again until several years later in Karaj
Karaj is a city in and the capital of Karaj County, Alborz Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 1,377,450, in 385,955 families, , making it the fifth-largest city in Iran after Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan and Tabriz.) It is situated west of Tehran, at the foothills of the Alborz...

, where Dr. Alireza Safaian adopted them. Even though Dadollah Bijani won the custody against Safaian, the sisters chose to spend their childhood with Safaian.

They faced some difficulties because of their conjoined nature. Since they had to study together, they needed to choose a common career path. Ladan wanted to be a lawyer, while Laleh wished to become a journalist; in the end, they settled on Ladan's choice. They studied law for four years at Tehran University. Most other personal decisions also had to meet each other's approval. For these and other reasons, they had wanted to be separated since they were children. Laleh hoped that she could then move to Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

, the capital city of Iran, to study journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...

, while her sister wanted to continue with graduate studies
Graduate school
A graduate school is a school that awards advanced academic degrees with the general requirement that students must have earned a previous undergraduate degree...

 in law and then move to Shiraz
Shiraz may refer to:* Shiraz, Iran, a city in Iran* Shiraz County, an administrative subdivision of Iran* Vosketap, Armenia, formerly called ShirazPeople:* Hovhannes Shiraz, Armenian poet* Ara Shiraz, Armenian sculptor...


In addition, the sisters had different hobbies. While Laleh liked to, among other things, play computer games, Ladan preferred computer programming. Ladan also described her sister as more introverted and herself quite talkative.


In 1996, they traveled to Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, trying to convince doctors there to separate them; the German doctors however declined to operate, saying that the risk of separation surgery would be too high for both of them.

In November 2002, after meeting Dr. Keith Goh
Keith Goh
Dr. Keith Goh is a neurosurgeon from Singapore.Dr Goh became known for leading an international medical and surgical team that was the first to attempt the separation of adult conjoined twins, the Bijani twins, who were joined at the head. The operation, carried out in Raffles Hospital in 2003,...

, a Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

an neurosurgeon who successfully separated the Shrestha sisters from Nepal (Ganga and Jamuna), who had previously also been joined at the head, the Bijani sisters travelled to Singapore to undergo the controversial operation. Even though they were warned by the doctors that the surgery to separate them would still be very risky, the sisters were very determined. Their decision to go ahead with the operation caused an international media blitz.

After seven months in the Southeast Asian country doing extensive psychiatric
Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study and treatment of mental disorders. These mental disorders include various affective, behavioural, cognitive and perceptual abnormalities...

 and legal evaluations, they underwent surgery on July 6, 2003, under the care of a large team of international specialists at Raffles Hospital
Raffles Hospital
Raffles Hospital is a tertiary care private hospital and the flagship of the Raffles Medical Group , a leading private healthcare provider in Singapore and South East Asia...

, composed of 28 surgeons (including world-renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson
Ben Carson
Benjamin Solomon "Ben" Carson, Sr., M.D., is an American neurosurgeon and the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States by President George W...

) and more than 100 support staff working in shifts. A specially-designed chair was required that allowed the operation to be performed with both sisters in a sitting position.

The attempt to separate the twins turned out to be very difficult, because their brain
The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals—only a few primitive invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, sea squirts and starfishes do not have one. It is located in the head, usually close to primary sensory apparatus such as vision, hearing,...

s not only shared a major vein
In the circulatory system, veins are blood vessels that carry blood towards the heart. Most veins carry deoxygenated blood from the tissues back to the heart; exceptions are the pulmonary and umbilical veins, both of which carry oxygenated blood to the heart...

 (the superior sagittal sinus
Superior sagittal sinus
The superior sagittal sinus , within the human head, is an unpaired area along the attached margin of falx cerebri. It allows blood to drain from the lateral aspects of anterior cerebral hemispheres to the confluence of sinuses...

), but had fused together. The separation was achieved on July 8, 2003, but it was announced then that the twins were in critical condition, both having lost a large volume of blood
Blood is a specialized bodily fluid in animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells....

 due to complications of the operation.

The separation stage of the surgery completed at 13:30 (Singapore time, UTC +8), but there was significant blood loss during the blood vessel repairing process, and Ladan Bijani died at around 14:30 on the operating table; her sister Laleh died a short time afterwards at 16:00. The deaths were announced by the chairman of Raffles Hospital, Dr. Loo Choon Yong.


The sisters were buried in accordance to Shiite Muslim traditions in separate tomb
A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes...

s, side by side, in Lohrasb. The sisters willed their property to blind and orphaned children.

A documentary about the operation was broadcast soon after. Later people named January 17th as Hope day.

External links

  • "Surgeons' sorrow at death of twins" - BBC News article, July 8, 2003, containing an account by Dr. Loo of the operation. Last retrieved November 15, 2006.
  • "Till Death Do Us Part", from Wired
    Wired (magazine)
    Wired is a full-color monthly American magazine and on-line periodical, published since January 1993, that reports on how new and developing technology affects culture, the economy, and politics...

    , by Joshua Davis. October 2003. Last retrieved November 15, 2006.