Singapore's health minister has cautioned against a planned surgery in the city-state to separate Indian twin sisters joined at the head, citing the risks involved, a report said Monday.
The operation is more likely to harm the patients than improve their situation, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in remarks carried by the Straits Times.
A Singaporean neurosurgeon, Keith Goh, has said he had been asked by the state government of Andhra Pradesh in India to surgically separate five-year-old Indian twin sisters Vani and Veena, possibly later this year.
But Khaw said that in certain situations, it may be better not to operate on conjoined twins.
"To change the course of nature may do more harm than good," he was quoted as saying.
In some cases, surgeons also have to pick one twin to die in order to save the other, the health minister said.
"Even those who survive would often be left with brain damage. So, to what extent is this quality of life?" he asked.
In 2001, Goh was involved in a 97-hour operation that separated 11-month-old Nepalese twins Ganga and Jamuna Shrestha who were born with fused skulls.
The surgery left Ganga with brain damage and Jamuna unable to walk. It also left a hole in Jamuna's skull covered only by a layer of skin.
Last year, Ganga died from respiratory problems at a hospital in Kathmandu, where she was being treated for pneumonia and meningitis.
Goh was also involved in the tragic operation of 29-year-old Iranian twins, Ladan and Laleh Bijani, in July 2003. Both women, joined at the head, died from severe blood loss following a 52-hour operation.