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One separated Gaza twin dies, but sister recovering Open in fullscreen

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One separated Gaza twin dies, but sister recovering

Twins Haneen and Farah underwent complex surgery after being born adjoined at the abdomen [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 January, 2018

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After being allowed to leave Gaza for life-saving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, one baby girl has died following a complex separation from her twin sister.

One of two Palestinian conjoined sisters from the Gaza Strip - separated this week in surgery in Saudi Arabia - has died, but her sister is recovering, the kingdom said Saturday.

"Haneen is in stable condition and on her way to recovery five days after being surgically separated from her clinically dead sister, Farah," the Saudi information ministry said.

"Haneen is breathing normally and is receiving her nutrition intravenously," said Dr. Abdullah al-Rabiah, who led the operation team.

Rabiah said that all of the Palestinian infant's vital signs were now stable and that she had been removed from an artificial respirator.

The operation was carried out on Monday and involved the separation of multiple organs, including the liver, as well as restoring organs in Haneen.

The surgery came months after a doctor and family member of the twins, born in October, pleaded from Gaza that they be allowed to go abroad for the complex surgery.

Allam Abu Hamda, head of the neonatal unit at Gaza's Shifa Hospital, told AFP in October the girls were born joined at the stomach and pelvis and that the complicated condition could not be dealt with in the enclave.

Israel has maintained a crippling blockade of the Palestinian territory for a decade, citing security fears over Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas.

Empty shelves at Gaza's Shifa hospital, a consequence of the
Israeli-enforced blockade that is having a catastrophic effect
on healthcare in the besieged enclave [Getty] 

The UN has said that the quality of health services in Gaza has deteriorated due to the blockade, as well as ongoing armed conflicts, political discord, and austerity cuts. The organisation has issued a stark warning that the enclave could become 'unlivable' as soon as 2020, due to the blockade and Palestinian political impotence.

Medical services have also been severely affected by power cuts following the Palestinian Authority's suspension of payment for Gaza's electricity. This has led to postponement of elective surgeries, premature discharge of patients, and a lack of cleaned and sterilised medical supplies.

Earlier this month, electricity was partially restored in Gaza. However, the increase of 50 megawatts per day is less than half the daily required level.

The UN adds that patients' long-term health is also under threat due to delays in the shipment of essential medication and disposables from the West Bank, as well as the disruption in the referral of patients to medical treatment outside Gaza.

Five women cancer patients died in August last year after being prevented from attending hospital appointments outside of the Gaza Strip, it was reported last year by advocacy group Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).

In a statement given in September, MAP said that 30 Gazans had already died that year after being prevented from attending treatment outside of Gaza, indicating that 2017 would be the worst year on record.

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