COVID-19 death of NY surgeon brings grief, anger to mom of separated Filipino twins

/ 07:58 PM March 31, 2020

BACOLOD CITY—The mother of conjoined Filipino twins who had been separated by surgery expressed sadness and anger at the death because of COVID-19 of the lead surgeon who performed the successful operation in 2004.

The twins from Silay City, Negros Occidental, Clarence and Carl Aguirre, are now 18 years old. Dr. James Goodrich, who led the operation to separate them, died in New York of complications associated with COVID-19.


Arlene Aguirre, mother of the twins, wrote on her Facebook page that she was devastated, sad and very angry that Goodrich had died.

“We lost the greatest person in our lives because of the damn virus,” Arlene said on her Facebook post.


“I’m grateful and thankful for everything you’ve done to us especially for the boys Carl and Clarence,” she said.

Arlene added that the separation of her twins was the “greatest gift” she had received.

“We will never forget you and you will always be part  of our lives. Clarence said you’re the best doctor ever,” she added.

Dr. Ceres Baldevia, who worked with Goodrich in separating Clarence and Carl, also expressed sadness at the death of the famous surgeon.

“We lost one of the best neurosurgeons in the world,” said Baldevia in a text message to the INQUIRER.

She and Goodrich, a native of New York, were supposed to have a reunion with the Filipino twins this summer.

Baldevia described Goodrich as a man of courage and compassion who had saved so many lives.


In his last e-mail to Baldevia, Goodrich said he had successfully separated eight conjoined twins.

Clarence and Carl had been connected at the skull and were separated by Goodrich and a team of doctors that included Baldevia at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

Baldevia,  in a post on her Facebook account, recalled how she brought the case of Clarence and Carl to Goodrich and the New York surgeon quickly replied in the affirmative.

“When I asked you if you’re willing to take care of Carl and Clarence, you replied,  ‘Sure, I am willing to take the risk’,” wrote Baldevia on her Facebook account.

“They were your first patients and you kept on thanking me for making you famous after the successful surgery. It wasn’t me, it was you.”

Dr. Philip Ozuah, chief executive officer of Montefiore Medical Center in New York, described Goodrich as a “beacon of our institution.”

Edited by TSB

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TAGS: #COVID19PH, Conjoined, Coronavirus, death, Mourning, surgery, Twins
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