Laden and Laleh Bijani were born joined at the head, to a poor farming family in Shiraz, Iran. The family had 11 children and were unable to care for them. They remained in hospital for some months or years (one reference says 18 months, another implies that they were in the hospital until at least 1979), in the glare of media attention. Eventually they were fostered (Islam does not permit adoption in the Western sense) by a wealthy Iranian doctor and lived as normal a life as possible, but ever since early childhood they wanted to be able to lead independent lives, since their personalities were very different. Their birth parents did not re-establish contact with them until they were 26, and although they wanted the girls to live with them, they preferred to live with their foster family. The courts ruled that they had to leave their foster family, but they did not have to return to their birth family either: their foster father supported them as they went to college. After college the yearning to be independent drove them to Singapore, where a team of 120 doctors and nurses (who had previously successfully separated a similarly-joined pair of Nepalese toddler girls) separated them, but they both died soon after the operation in July 2003.
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