SC pushes for medical separation of conjoined sisters

Last Updated: Monday, July 16, 2012 - 21:05

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to constitute a medical board to provide medical aide to 16-year-old Bihar`s conjoined twins Saba and Farah Saleem, observing that "the acute agony of the girls would shock anybody`s conscience."

A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra also issued notices to the Centre, Attorney General G E Vahanvati and the Bihar Government, on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition by Aarushi Dhasmana, a second year law student from Pune, for their replies on the issue.

The apex court said the team shall include Dr Benjamin Carson, a leading American specialist on conjoined twins, working here at Apollo Hospital and other experts from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Quoting newspaper reports, the petition filed through counsel Ravi Prakash Gupta, said the two grown up girls born as twins joined at the head are undergoing immense pain and are unable to even sleep due to consistent unbearable pain.

While seeking medical aid at government`s expenditure, the PIL said if it is not possible, the parents be permitted to adopt "mercy killing" of the twins.

According to the petition, Saba and Farah have been bedridden and are experiencing persistent, acute agony and distress and are neither able to sleep adequately nor get up from their bed and this has made their lives miserable.

It said the twins` father, Mohammad Shakeel, a tea stall owner in Patna, who is distressed by their growing sufferings, had pleaded for mercy killing for his twins last year.

Gupta said an expert team headed by Dr Benjamin Carlos about 5 years ago had opined that to separate Saba and Farah, it would require five or six operations over nine months, but each stage held a one-in-five chance that either of the girls might die.

The conjoined twins` family had decided against the surgery, despite Abu Dhabi`s crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed offering to pay for it, the petition said. A team under Dr Benjamin Carson, a US specialist, had found that they shared a vital blood vessel in the brain, and that Farah had two kidneys, while Saba had none, it added. The petition said "due to lack of sufficient financial resources, their family has been unable to provide them with adequate medical treatments and facilities." Accordingly, the father of the conjoined twins should be given either the financial support to treat his daughters or be granted permission for mercy killing, the petition said.


First Published: Monday, July 16, 2012 - 19:12

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