MALACCA: Siti Fatimah Azaharah Abdul Malik and Siti Fatimah Tahirah Abdul Malik look like any other cheerful and adorable twins.
No one would have guessed that when they were born 12 years ago, the girls were a pair of Siamese twins, joined at the abdomen and shared both small and large intestines.
When the girls were four months old, they underwent an eight-hour operation to be separated at Terendak Hospital here, performed by then army surgeons Dr Woo Soo Fah and Prof Liew Ngoh Chin the first such surgery for the military hospital.
The girls family lived in Kampung Paya Rumput in Masjid Tanah, some 35km from here, and opted to have the surgery for the twins at the military hospital, which was near their home.
Both girls, who still live with their family in Masjid Tanah, are now growing up normally.
Their parents, businessman Abdul Malik Tamby Chik, 41, and clerk Shamsiah Ramly, 36, looked on at their boisterous twins at a gathering to celebrate the hospitals 35th anniversary, themed Down Memory Lane, on Saturday.
The gathering also saw a reunion of former personnel from the Armed Forces Medical and Dental Corps, who served at the military hospital.
According to Shamsiah, although the girls are twins, they are very different in their personalities, likes and in the way they dress.
Tahirah is the more feminine one; she wears dresses all the time. But Azaharah is a tomboy. She likes football and prefers jeans and pants
She nearly cried when I made her wear this red dress today, Shamsiah said of the elder twin.
The girls also have different ambitions Azaharah aims to be a doctor while her twin wants to be a teacher.
Tahirah loves to read and is very fussy about her food. She does not eat prawn or crab and will only take certain types of fish. For Azaharah, anything will do, Shamsiah said.
The girls only found out that they were once conjoined twins early this year when a visiting family friend showed them a magazine with an article about them and their operation.
Their parents had kept their past away from them, with the belief that the separation would be a new beginning for the family.
When they found out about their past, they were actually quite excited. They had often asked about the scars on their bellies but we told them they were operated on after they had stomach ache, Shamsiah explained.
No parent would want to see their children handicapped. So, when an option was given to us, we chose the best for the girls. As a mother, you have to be strong to take the challenge.
The twins have a 14-year-old brother, Mohamad Ali Hassan, and their parents adopted a baby boy, who is seven months old.
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