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Guatemalan Twin Due Back at UCLA

Both have experienced complications. At least one of the girls is expected in L.A. today.

May 22, 2003|Jessica Garrison and Jose Cardenas | Times Staff Writers

At least one of the Guatemalan twins born joined at the head and separated at UCLA last year is expected to return to Los Angeles today, according to officials and family members.

The girls' father said that Maria Teresa Quiej Alvarez, who was in critical condition late last month with an infection, might be accompanied by her sister, who suffered convulsions Wednesday.

Maria de Jesus, the stronger of the two sisters since the 23-hour operation to separate them was performed Aug. 6, suffered the convulsions Wednesday at her home, said Dr. Ludwig Ovalle, the girls' pediatrician in Guatemala City. She was rushed to a hospital after she "let out a scream, fell from a chair and began convulsing," Ovalle said.

Her sister returned to the hospital in April after a valve in her skull became infected. She is expected to return today to Los Angeles for an operation. Whether Maria de Jesus accompanies her isn't certain, their father, Wenceslao Quiej, said.

Quiej said the Guatemala Pediatric Foundation would decide today whether it would pay for him and his wife to travel again to Los Angeles with their daughters.

"We feel a little bit sad right now," Quiej said.

Last month, doctors from UCLA, including Jorge Lazareff, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Mattel Children's Hospital, flew to Guatemala City to consult on Maria Teresa's condition. They reported earlier this month that they were pleased with her progress.

The girls were born July 25, 2001. Their family is from a village about 100 miles southeast of Guatemala City.

They spent the first 10 months of their lives in a hospital in Guatemala City, far from their parents, who lived a five-hour bus ride away and could visit only occasionally.

Last June, the international charity Healing the Children paid for the conjoined twins and their mother to fly to Los Angeles for the operation.

Doctors at first were not sure whether the girls would survive the risky procedure.

But they appeared to be recovering well, and captivated nurses at UCLA with their antics and their joy in seeing each other's faces, something that had been impossible before.

They returned in January to Guatemala, where they have become national heroines.

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Associated Press contributed to this report.

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