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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Korean Twins Born Joined at Back Now Separated

Aired July 23, 2003 - 19:36   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Just two weeks after Iranian conjoined twins died in surgery, a success to report from the very same Singapore hospital. Four-month-old South Korean twins -- there they are -- whose names, translated into English, mean Love and Wisdom, were born connected at the lower back. They were successfully separated yesterday in a four-and-a-half-hour operation. Today they are in stable condition.
Dr. Henry Kawamoto, who was on the team at UCLA that separated the Guatemalan twins last year, joins us now from Los Angeles.

Dr. Kawamoto, good to see you again. What were the biggest challenges in this operation?

DR. HENRY KAWAMOTO, HELPED SEPARATE CONJOINED GUATEMALAN TWINS: I'm sure they were worried about the organs that the two twins shared and how to separate them and do it quickly, and as they -- as we know, they did it successfully. Great job.

COOPER: Because they were connected basically on the back. Some of their reproductive organs were also connected. So, I mean, it was a difficult operation but not -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) certainly nothing on the scale of, say, the Iranian twins.

KAWAMOTO: Well, it's an entirely different thing. In some ways it may be more complicated when they're stuck in other areas, because it involves more specialists. Here, in this particular case, there were neurosurgeons involved, plastic surgeons. And because they shared some of the organs, people that deal with the lower digestive tract, the GYN people, and also probably some kidney specialists.

So it's a little bit bigger team and makes it somewhat more complicated.

COOPER: After what happened to the Iranian twins, who died under the knife, so to speak, has there been a change in the way -- I mean, I think there's perhaps been some sort of change in the way the public views some of these surgeries. Has there been a way -- a change in the way doctors assess these, or the way you personally look at these surgeries, as to whether or not to go ahead and do them?

KAWAMOTO: Well, I think every operations of this magnitude is -- the risks are really taken in and considered and weighed very carefully. But I think in the Iranian twins' situation, they showed a tremendous courage, that is, the patient. And I think they showed the world something that we don't think about very often, but often it's the quality of life that's just as important as the quantity of life. And so that has to be taken into...

COOPER: And they, and they...

KAWAMOTO: ... consideration.

COOPER: ... apparently, by all accounts, said to many people, including at least one the doctors I talked to operated on them, that they would -- they knew the risks, and they would rather die than continue to live the way they were.

KAWAMOTO: The -- yes, they're real heroines.

COOPER: Dr. Henry Kawamoto, appreciate you joining us. It's always good to talk to you. Thank you.

KAWAMOTO: All right, thank you.

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