Tuesday, July 08, 2003
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
R.I.P. Laleh and Ladan Bijani (1974 - 2003)

"That's what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we've changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way, is winning." - Richard Bach

Laleh and Ladan Bijani survived three decades of life as two souls, two minds and two bodies joined at their temples of their skulls. They not only survived what must have been an unimaginably challenging daily struggle for mobility, privacy and individuality, but triumphed. They both graduated from law school. As consenting adults they freely chose to undergo the highly risky, unprecedented surgery to separate their bodies.

Alas, the intricate, conjoined cranial structures Nature had made could not be successfully divided by the hand of man. Some would call the twins' choice for surgical separation a risk too great to undertake, even though recent medical tests had uncovered a dangerous underlying disorder - the blood pressure inside Laleh and Ladan's brains was nearly twice normal - a condition that might have led to a deadly stroke or aneurysm at some point in the future. They may have already been living on borrowed time before the surgery.

But given the choice of the physical life the twins had led to that point, versus the possibility of individual lives, the risk-laden procedure was a chance they needed to be allowed to make for themselves.

Do we question why astronauts allow their bodies to be hurled into space for the sake of science, discovery and glory?

Certainly these two brave women deserved no less of an opportunity to reach for their stars.

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt