Unique Verdict Over Siamese Twin who Died after Separation

Published December 15th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A British coroner threw out convention Friday to record a special verdict over the death of a Siamese twin following surgery to separate her from her sister. 

The case of Mary and Jodie, born in Britain to Maltese parents, prompted a huge legal and ethical debate here over the right to life of one of the girls against the right to life of both of them. 

After a court ruling ordering surgery to save Jodie at the expense of Mary, who was draining her sister of life, the separation was carried out in Manchester, northwest England, early last month. 

It led to Mary's death within minutes of the 20-hour operation. Jodie, for her part, is recovering. 

Coroner Leonard Gorodkin said at the inquest in Manchester that he was ignoring the usual verdicts listed in the coroners rules, which are accident, misadventure, unlawful or lawful killing or an open verdict. 

He read a special ruling: "Mary died following surgery separating her from her conjoined twin, which surgery was permitted by an order of the High Court, confirmed by the Court of Appeal." 

He said: "It is as unique for me as a coroner as it was for the judges. 

"I don't believe any coroner has had to consider a death from surgery when it was known beforehand the patient was going to die. 

"All surgery carries with it a mortality rate, but in the case of Mary that was a one hundred percent rate." 

He said an unlawful killing ruling was inappropriate. "Although some people emotionally believe that Mary was murdered, of course that isn't the case." 

The twins were born in Manchester on August 8, after parents Michaelangelo Attard, 44, and wife Rina, 29, strict Roman Catholics from the island of Gozo, off Malta, flew to Britain -- MANCHESTER (AFP)  

 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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