Conjoined twins to be buried after op

EASTERN Cape's conjoined twins will be separated in a quick operation before burial.

EASTERN Cape's conjoined twins will be separated in a quick operation before burial.

They died on Wednesday.

The Eastern Cape Department of Health announced yesterday that the babies had to be separated and this would be done before next week Saturday when they would be laid to rest in Mthatha.

Ithandile and Athandile Tumela were born at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital two weeks ago.

The babies were joined at the chest and stomach. Theyshared a heart, a liver, intestines, and one of them had only one kidney.

Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said: "The hospital wanted to conduct an autopsy to study the heart and separate them for the burial."

He said that the babies died due to complications of the underdeveloped heart they shared.

He said that he had personally found a funeral parlour to sponsor the funeral.

"The family is destitute. I found Maqholo funeral parlour in Libode to conduct the burial for free," he said.

Both parents are unemployed and they also have a two-year-old son.

He said the parents had asked the hospital for help but it was not government policy to bury people who died in hospital as there were many of them.

It was reported that the mother, Bongiswani Tumela, broke down and had to go for intensive counselling after she was informed that the babies would not be separated.

Before they died the girls were also visited by Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet and Health MEC Phumulo Masualle.

Kupelo said the mother of the babies was at home preparing for the funeral which will be on Saturday next week.

He said the mother looked as if she had accepted the death of the twins.

The department was ready to provide her with counselling should the need arise.