A PAIR of seven-month-old conjoined twins from Cebu received a new lease on life after they were successfully separated through surgery in Taiwan last month.

Rose Carmel and Rose Carmelette Molit were born in October 2009, joined at the hip and with only one rectum.

Through the efforts of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, a Taiwan-based non-profit group, the girls underwent surgery in the Hualien Tzu Chi General Hospital in eastern Taiwan last month.

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When they were wheeled out from the operating room after a seven-hour procedure, it was as separate individuals.

The twins come from a modest background. Their mother Emile used to be high school teacher, while their father is a factory worker.

When the couple found out the procedure to separate the twins was beyond their means, Emile sought the help of the Tzu Chi Foundation, which took care of all the arrangements.

Last March, the twins flew to Taiwan with their mother, together with volunteers from Tzu Chi Philippines.

More than 20 doctors operated on the twins.

Aside from the Molit sisters, the Tzu Chi Foundation also helped Rachel and Lea Awel of Kalinga, Apayao, who were joined in the stomach and chest.

More than 60 doctors from Hualien Tzu Chi General Hospital and Tzu Chi International Medical Association Philippine chapter helped separate the Awel sisters.

The Tzu Chi Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 1966 by dharma master Cheng Yen in Hualien, Taiwan.

The foundation has been working to improve social and community services, medical care, education and humanism in Taiwan for the last 40 years. (JKV/With PR)