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CONJOINED TWIN DIES JUST SHORT OF 1ST BIRTHDAY

SHARE CONJOINED TWIN DIES JUST SHORT OF 1ST BIRTHDAY

Angela Lakeberg, the conjoined twin whose sister was sacrificed to give her a slim chance at life, died Thursday morning just short of her first birthday.

Angela never left the hospital and doctors never managed to wean her from a ventilator. Her lung problems worsened dramatically in the 24 hours before she died at 1 a.m.No relatives were there when she died, said Beatrice Parker, spokeswoman for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"Angela Lakeberg was a sweet little girl," said Dr. Russell C. Raphaely, the hospital's director of critical care. "The staff was quite fond of her and we were all pulling for her."

Angela's father, Kenneth Lakeberg, has had a series of legal problems and is currently in a drug rehabilitation center. Reitha Lakeberg was in the family's home state of Indiana when Angela died.

Angela and Amy Lakeberg were born joined at the chest on June 29, 1993, at a hospital near Chicago. They shared a deformed heart and fused liver.

Doctors at the Illinois hospital opposed separation, saying there was no reason to put the twins through the ordeal when there was little chance either would survive. The bill for Angela's medical care has topped $1 million at Children's alone.

Without surgery, both probably would have died in a few months, doctors said.

The Lakebergs said they were willing to test the odds of surgery. The twins were transferred to Children's Hospital and separated Aug. 20 during a 51/2-hour operation in which Amy died.

Because the two shared a single heart, it was known all along that one would not survive. Doctors said Amy was sacrificed because the anatomy of their organs gave Angela the better chance.

Relatives were notified Wednesday night that Angela had worsened and had been resuscitated twice.