Directly from my brain and onto the internet.
Published on April 25, 2005 By PJ_ In Health & Medicine
I just saw an article on about an Egyptian girl named Manar Maged who was born with (part of) a conjoined twin growing out of her head. That article contains pictures that you might find disturbing. Go look at them.

I was kind of weirded out when I first saw it. I went into the article thinking of that episode of South Park where the woman had a dead fetus hanging off her head. When I saw the pictures I said "Wow, it's a fully formed head, with part of a torso attached to it. That's kind of gross." What disturbed me was when I read further and saw "The twin could blink and smile but was not capable of independent life."

I'm no kind of expert, but the head looks fully formed to me, and it's capable of facial expressions. My guess is that there's a brain inside that can think as well as any 10 month old's brain. So maybe I should be calling the head "her" instead of "it."

It doesn't look like there's room in her little torso for functioning lungs, so she probably wouldn't be able to breath and definitely wouldn't be able to eat. Ever. But cutting her off from her sister seems to me like taking someone off of life support. Worse, in a way, because unlike some other people who have been taken off life support she shows signs of being more intelligent than a cabbage. Where's the outcry for her?

I know, it's not the same situation at all. If the unnamed girl had been left attached to her sister they probably would both have died. Even now Manar isn't in the clear. This is a rare condition, and she's the first one to have survived this long. It was certainly right to separate them, so that one of them could survive. I'm just surprised that the news stories talk about the second little girl as if she were just a growth on here sister's head. Well, I'm going to remember her as a person, at least.

on Apr 25, 2005
I have followed this story for a while, and I had some of the same thoughts about it that you did. I tend to believe that the "head" was a child...with little child thoughts and emotions. I don't question the decision to remove her from her sister, but it does make me a bit sad because it seems to me like it meant the death of a little child...not simply a surplus organ.

Thank you for writing about this.

on Apr 26, 2005
It's always hard to know what part of conjoined twins are seperate and which aren't. Was there two brains, or did the one brain adapt to both accomidate both faces? Sadly, we will never know. Like both of you, I agree that seperating the one from the fully developed baby was the right thing to do. In medicine there are many situations where the choice of one life over the other must be made. In those rare, but very real situations, the choice should never be taken lightly, or shrugged off easily.
on Jan 07, 2007
I'm watching a special on TLC right now. One of the women, I think it was a nurse, said that she always called the twin Morna. So she did have a name, even if not many people used it.

By the way, the people who knew Manar and Morna when they were in the hospital said they definitely had different personalities. "If you played with Manar, the other head would be lonely," one of them said.
on Jan 07, 2007
Morna and Manar

morna - funny - her names sounds like mourn - indicating that she would be mourned and manar - makes me think of mana (spell) from heaven - she is blessed with life.
on Jan 07, 2007
Since I wrote that last comment partway through the show I didn't know that after the operation to separate them their mother took the advice of a religious leader and gave the parasitic twin a name and a burial. She named her Islam, even though that's typically a boy's name. I had a vague feeling that she should have been given the name she would have gotten if she'd been born separate and whole, but I guess her mother gave her that name as a symbol of how important faith was to her and her family.

Manar has brain damage (the two brains were connected), but they don't know yet how much of a problem it's going to be as she grows up. Her mother said you wouldn't know she was the same person from before the operation. She used to smile all the time, and now not so much. But she didn't seem too upset as she said that, probably because smiling or not her little heart wasn't constantly failing trying to pump blood to one and a half bodies.