On This Day

The Day Myanmar Doctors Separated Conjoined Twins for the 1st Time

By Wei Yan Aung 7 July 2019

YANGON—Forty-eight years ago today, Ma Nan Soe and Ma Nan San were successfully separated at Yangon Pediatric Hospital in Myanmar’s first operation on conjoined twins. The sisters were joined from the chest to the navel.

The operation took five hours and was carried out when the pair were five months old. A hospital in a foreign country suggested they be transferred there for the operation, but Myanmar doctors felt they could perform the procedure themselves and assembled the necessary equipment from local hospitals. All the lights in Yangon Pediatric Hospital’s patient wards and doctor’s offices were turned off during the operation to ensure there was enough light in the operating theater.

Following the successful operation, the twins were showered in gifts and cash from well-wishers. The outpouring was so huge that the Social Welfare Department had to assign staff to receive and register the presents.

The father of the twins visits his daughters at Yangon Pediatric Hospital on May 26, 1971, a little over a month before their separation surgery.

A documentary film about the operation was screened at 10 cinemas in Yangon shortly afterward.

Unfortunately the younger of the twins, Ma Nan San, died one month and seven days after the operation after developing an illness. Ma Nan Soe became a well-known figure and is still alive and healthy.

Ma Nan Soe and Ma Nan San are one of eight pairs of conjoined twins to be successfully separated in Myanmar to date.