Conjoined twin brother dies 40 years after Taiwan’s first successful separation surgery

Remaining brother promises to continue charity work

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Chang Chung-jen (left) and Chang Chung-i in 2009.

Chang Chung-jen (left) and Chang Chung-i in 2009. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - One of the conjoined twins to be the first to be successfully separated in Taiwan, Chang Chung-jen (張忠仁), died at the age of 42 Friday morning, 40 years after the operation.

The anniversary was to have been the occasion for a photo exhibition and other celebratory events, said former National Taiwan University (NTU) President Chen Wei-chao (陳維昭), who led the surgical team.

Chang collapsed at work on Thursday and died of a brain hemorrhage in the early hours of Friday, the Central News Agency reported.

As he was considered the elder brother, he recently engaged in frequent lectures and charity work, which might have exhausted him, CNA quoted Chen as saying.

When Chang and his brother, Chang Chung-i (張忠義), were born, they were joined from the stomach. While most of the organs were sufficient for two people, they had three legs, which led to them only having one leg each after surgery, reports said.

Their case attracted massive public attention in 1979, and a support and donation campaign overcame the initial reluctance of NTU Hospital to perform the separation, according to CNA. At the time, doctors estimated the brothers might live to the age of 20.

In recent years, Chung-jen complained of bone inflammation, pain and urinary problems, CNA reported.

On Friday, Chung-i said he would continue to live as a replacement for his late brother.