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Binder Twins Far From Normal Two Years After Surgery

June 26, 1989

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Nearly two years after surgeons separated a pair of West German Siamese twins connected at the head, the children remain far from normal, doctors say.

Patrick Binder remains in ″a vegetative state,″ said David Nichols, a Johns Hopkins Children’s Center pediatric anesthesiologist who participated in the surgery and now directs the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit.

Patrick’s brother, Benjamin, is improving, but is ″clearly not normal and developmentally delayed,″ the doctor was quoted as saying in Monday’s editions of The (Baltimore) Sun.

The 22-hour surgery to separate the then 7-month-old twins finished Sept. 6, 1987. Hospital officials originally predicted a six-week recovery period, but the twins remained at Hopkins for more than seven months. When they returned to their home in Ulm, West Germany, in April 1988, Patrick was hospitalized again.

″In a technological ‘star wars’ sort of way, the operation was a fantastic success,″ said Benjamin Carson, the pediatric neurosurgeon who helped direct the surgical team. ″But as far as having normal children, I don’t think it was all that successful.″

The parents, Theresia and Josef Binder, signed a contract with the West German magazine Bunte, giving the magazine exclusive rights to the story until the boys reach age 18. Because of that the Binders have refused to talk to the press.

But in an article in April in Freizeit Revue, a West German magazine published by the same company that publishes Bunte, Mrs. Binder was critical of Hopkins and the care her sons received later in West Germany.

The doctors in Baltimore told her her children would ″run and laugh″ within a year after their discharge from Hopkins, she told the magazine. ″I took it seriously,″ she said. ″But maybe they just wanted to encourage me.″

Nichols denied Hopkins doctors made that claim.

″The Binders were told that Patrick showed signs of severe neurological damage and that his recovery potential was uncertain,″ he said. ″Also, there was a question of blindness and hearing deficit. And they were told that Benjamin’s development would be delayed and his ultimate chances of recovery were uncertain.″

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