The four-month-old sisters Ji Hye and Sa Rang underwent the surgery lasting about five hours at Raffles Hospital, which is still dogged by controversy after an unprecedented and high-risk operation to separate adult Iranian twins failed on 8 July.

Raffles Hospital officials said the twins were in stable condition. They would remain in intensive care for 48 to 72 hours.

The Korean babies were joined at their lower backs and at an angle which would have prevented them from sitting or standing properly as they grow older. The most delicate part of the surgery was to separate internal organs that were fused around their buttocks.

Dr. Yang Ching Yu, Deputy Medical Director of Raffles Hospital and consultant neurosurgeon Dr. Keith Goh, who headed the failed surgery on Iranians Ladan and Laleh Bijani, operated on the Korean twins.

Critical timing

Yang said the girls had to be separated at this stage or would have developed severe skull and spinal deformities.

Ladan (L) and Laleh Bijani
encouraged the babies' parents

The parents of the Korean babies were determined to proceed after doctors gave their babies a better than 85 percent chance of survival.

They were also encouraged by Ladan and Laleh, whom they met in Singapore before the ill-fated surgery.

The 29-year-old Iranian sisters, who were fused at the head, drew the world’s attention after they searched countries for doctors to perform a highly-risky operation to separate them. 

They were separated but died 90 minutes apart from a severe loss of blood following a marathon 52-hour surgery.

The parents of the Korean babies had sought Goh’s help after hearing he had successfully separated the fused skulls and brains of 11-month-old Nepali sisters in 2001.