Nima and Dawa Pelden, the first recorded conjoined twins in Bhutan and their mother arrived in Melbourne, Australia yesterday.

The surgery to separate the 14-month-old girls would be carried out at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

A paediatric surgeon with Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu, Dr Karma Sherub said the expense for surgery and flights to Australia is funded by the Children First Foundation, an Australian-based charity that focuses on ensuring children from developing countries have access to specialist surgeries and medical care.

According to foreign media, the cost of both the surgery and medical care is expected to cost about USD 300,000, which the charity is hoping to raise through donations.

Appeals for donation from the foundation has started appearing on social media pages causing confusion among people on the funding.

Hospital officials said that while paperwork with JDWNRH states that all expenses are borne by the foundation, the foundation would be raising funds for the surgery.

Dr Karma Sherub said the surgery would cost a huge amount and Bhutanese in Australia could donate to the foundation if they wish to.

JDWNRH said that Dr Karma Sherub worked hard in finding sponsors and the best hospital to operate on the twins. He had many discussions with Pediatric surgeons from Singapore, Australia, and India.

Born through caesarean section on July 13 last year at Phuentsholing General Hospital, the identical twin girls were joined at their lower chest and through their abdomen.

Foreign media reported that preliminary examination suggests the girls’ share a liver, and part of the bowel. Victorian health minister Jill Hennessy, it reports, had directed the Department of Health to work with the Royal Children’s Hospital and Children First Foundation to ensure the lifesaving surgery is provided in the coming weeks.

According to foreign media, a team of six surgeons and dozens of specialist nurses would carry out the surgery on the twins.

It states that several members of the surgical team, who will work to separate the girls, previously worked on the successful operation to separate the conjoined twins from Bangladesh in 2009.

Dr Karma Sherub would travel to Melbourne when the twins are ready to be operated on.

Dechen Tshomo