RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – The conjoined Palestinian twins that made the long, difficult journey out of the blockaded Gaza Strip to Saudi Arabia cannot be separated and do not have long to live, the Saudi health minister said Saturday.
Abdullah al-Rabeeah, who is also head of the medical team treating Rital and Ritaj, said that the two have a bacterial infection in their chests and that their hearts, livers and digestive systems are all intertwined.
"The two children are in a life threatening situation and similar cases have not survived," he said in a statement.
The two girls were born March 27, the first ever in the impoverished Gaza Strip, and doctors there lacked the resources to treat them. They requested help from Saudi Arabia, which has world renowned facilities for separating conjoined twins.
Saudi King Abdullah heard about the twins through the media and ordered they be brought to the kingdom for surgery. The king has funded such surgeries in the kingdom from other parts of the world.
The twins ran into obstacles in getting there. They had to obtain passports from the rival Palestinian government in the West Bank, permission from Israel and approval from the Egyptian government to open the border out of Gaza.
The twins were treated at the National Guard hospital in Riyadh by a top flight medical team, said the minister.
He said birth defects for the two-week-old twins made survival doubtful.