Conjoined twins who were abandoned by their poverty-stricken parents are successfully separated in gruelling 12-hour operation
Indian sisters Aradhana and Stuti had a fused liver and shared a heart membrane

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UPDATED:

08:44 GMT, 21 June 2012

A pair of 11-month-old conjoined sisters, who were abandoned by their poverty-stricken parents, have been successfully separated.

Aradhana and Stuti were left at the Missionary Hospital in Padhar, India, after they were born on May 11 last year, because their parents could not afford to take care of them. Their father Hariram Yadav is a poor local farmer who has just two acres of land.

Conjoined twins Stuti and Aradhna are pictured before a surgical operation to separate them at the Mission Hospital in India

Conjoined twins Stuti and Aradhna are pictured before a surgical operation to separate them at the Mission Hospital in India

Medical experts from India and Australia work to separate the twins

Medical experts from India and Australia work to separate the twins

The twins, who were joined at the chest, were separated yesterday during a 12-hour operation involving 23 doctors and 11 nurses from India and Australia. They were wheeled in the operation room at 8am, before the surgery followed from 9am to 9pm.

The team first separated their hearts, which were joined by the same membrane, followed by their fused livers.

Hospital Superintendent Dr Rajiv Choudhry said he was happy with how the surgery went. The special sisters will now remain on ventilators and under close observation for the next 48 hours.

The team had done a dry run of the entire procedure beforehand.

The surgery was funded by Indian TV viewers and local politicians after hearing of their plight.

The outpouring of generosity, with thousands of small donations by members of the public, is unusual in India where girls are often not valued in rural communities and disabled babies are often abandoned.

Public generosity was matched by a 22,000 fund from the Madhya Pradesh state government.

Separated: The team splits in to to work on sealing up the twins chests

Separated: The team splits in to to work on sealing up the twins chests

Indian mother Maya Yadav holds her one-year-old conjoined twin daughters

Aradhana and Stuti

The twins, pictured with their mother, left, were joined by their heart membrane and livers

The girls have been cared for by
hospital staff since their birth, with three nurses taking shifts to act as
surrogate mothers. Surgeons at the under-equipped Paddar Hospital spent months
appealing for international help and preparing for the operation.

The hospital persuaded the parents, who already have a six-year-old son, to continue having a relationship with their daughters. The couple Hari Ram Yadav and Maya Yadav now hope to take their girls home after surgery.

'We are happy that they will finally get to be a family and both the girls will get a proper home,' said Vikas Sonwani, assistant administrator of Paddar Hospital.

Conjoined twins occur in around one in every 200,000 live births. They are identical – coming from a single egg that doesn't fully separate after fertilization and therefore always the same sex.

Their prospects vary widely depending on their general
state of health, how they are joined and what organs are shared.

Between 40 to 60 per cent of conjoined twins are stillborn and around 35 per cent survive only one day. The overall survival rate of conjoined twins
is somewhere between five and 25 per cent. Female twins are three times as likely as males to be born alive.

Surgical separation is
still rare. According to the University of Maryland , at least one twin has survived separation about 75 per cent
of the time since 1950.

One of the earliest documented cases of conjoined twins were Mary and Eliza
Chulkhurst. They were born joined at the hip in 1100 in Kent and were know as the Biddenden maids. They died aged 34.

Before the operation: Aradhana and Stuti. Surgical separation of conjoined twins is still rare

Before the operation: Aradhana and Stuti. Surgical separation of conjoined twins is still rare