Bijani, Laden / Bijani, Laleh

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Iranian conjoined twins

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.

References Encyclopedia. "The Bijani Twins." Available at:
"Iranian Twins Dreamed of Separate Lives." [Includes portraits]. The Straits Times [Singapore], 8 July 2003.
"A Father Feels the Pain of Separation." The Age [Melbourne], 13 July 2003.


Arab, Middle Eastern
20th Century
21st Century
Medicine and Allied Professions
Medical Problems, Chronic Illness
Formal, American/European-Type Fostering
Pre-school Years
Child's Illness or Handicaps
Others ("Strangers")
Wealthy, Famous, Noble or Divine Adoptive or Foster Families
Institutional Care
Both Parents Unable or Unwilling to Care for Child
Parents Married (or Partnered) to Each Other
Birth Siblings Placed Together
Twins and Triplets
Birth Family Traced Adoptee/Fosteree
Always in Contact or Knew Identities
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