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TWINS JOINED AT HEAD DIE AFTER OPERATION

Twin girls who had been born joined at the head died after an operation to separate them in the Caribbean city of Cartagena, hospital officials said Sunday.

Maria Jose and Maria Fernanda, whose last names were not released, were born Friday joined at the scalp. Doctors said they had separate brains and believed they could survive.

But Maria Jose died late Saturday as the operation was starting, said Dr. Carmen Caicedo of the Bocagrande Hospital in Cartagena in a phone interview.

Once the separation was complete, she said, Maria Fernanda suffered respiratory failure and died early Sunday.

"I had hoped they would survive, but God is the one who is in charge," the girls' mother, Esmeralda Rodelo, told Reuters Sunday. In Colombia, women rarely change their last names when they marry, but their children take the father's family name.

The sisters were the third Siamese twins born in Colombia this year.

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