The courage and determination of these two young women makes all the problems and fears in my life seem minute. They walked into death like many of us walk into a room.
It is my sincere hope that many will see them as the heroes they were and their names will be spoken in many prayers, in many languages, in many countries around the world.
This is the kind of courage that moves me to face my own fears. Forevermore, when I think of these women, will I be reminded of angels...for that is what they truely are.
Singapore Mourns Death of Iranian Twins
By YEOH EN-LAI
.c The Associated Press
SINGAPORE (AP) - Fighting back tears and reading from the Quran, mourners prayed Wednesday as they prepared the bodies of two Iranian twins who died during separation surgery for the long journey home.
Volunteers, including nurses and paramedics, carried the bodies of 29-year-old Laleh and Ladan Bijani in separate coffins draped in black cloth to a Muslim school in Singapore, where they were washed according to Islamic tradition.
More than 400 people later gathered in a Singapore mosque at dusk to pray over the caskets, each adorned with a single white geranium. Dozens of wreaths sent by well-wishers piled up at the mosque's entrance as other mourners, include five Buddhist monks, a priest and two nuns, waited outside. A message on one wreath read: ``Separated. May you rest in peace.''
The twins' bodies were expected to be flown to Tehran early Thursday morning (Wednesday afternoon EDT) on a commercial flight, said Hasan al-Attas, a member of Singapore's Iranian community.
``I think they were happy they went together,'' said 14-year-old Elham Komjka. ``We are all very sad.''
The courage and optimism the twins showed as they went into surgery captured the hearts of people around the world, and their deaths within 90 minutes of each other from blood loss shortly after their separation on Tuesday triggered an outpouring of grief.
Both knew the operation's high risks but had pressed for surgery out of a deep desire to live separate, ordinary lives. Surgeons in Germany had earlier refused to carry out the procedure, saying it was too dangerous.
Both were law graduates, but only Ladan, the more extroverted sister, wanted to become a lawyer. Laleh's love was journalism.
``If God wants us to live the rest of our lives as two separate, independent individuals, we will,'' Ladan said before the operation.
In their homeland, Iranians wept as state television announced the deaths of the twins from a poor family who touched the world with their determination to see each other face-to-face, rather than in a mirror.
``Is my beloved Ladan really not with us anymore?'' Zari, an elder sister, said after hearing in Iran that her sister had died. Seconds later, she fainted.
In Singapore, dozens of people, mostly Iranian expatriates, gathered Wednesday for prayers at a Muslim school. They sat cross-legged, chanting verses from the Muslim holy book.
A bouquet of white and yellow carnations was placed near the entrance in honor of Ladan and Laleh, who were named after delicate Persian flowers.
The twins' operation took more than 50 grueling hours and was carried out by a team of international surgeons.
The operation - the first attempt to separate a pair of adult twins born joined at the head - was fraught with difficulties. Previous operations have been on infants, whose brains can recover more easily.
Surgeons repeatedly encountered surprises that preoperative tests couldn't detect. The skulls were harder to cut than expected, the twins' distinct brains had fused and their blood pressures were unstable.
It was the unpredictable changes in how their blood flowed, and surgeons' inability to cope with those changes, that killed the sisters, lead surgeon Keith Goh said.
Over three days, the team of 28 doctors and about 100 medical assistants worked in the tight space surrounding the twins, who were braced in a sitting position.
Surrounded by a dozen nurses and technicians, surgeons stood Tuesday on either side of the sisters, cradling their heads to support them as the final cut was made.
The blood started flowing uncontrollably the instant the surgeon cut through the point where the bottom of the brain touched the bone.
Most ethicists thought the operation was justified.