Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Irish conjoined twins win ‘battle of their lives’ after 14-hour surgery

the Benhaffaf conjoined twins Hassan and Hussein (13 weeks old)Location: Radisson Hotel, Little Island, Co Cork, IrelandPhoto: Stefan Syrowatka, www.syro.net, stefan@syro.net, 00353 857548646.
Surgeons have successfully separated conjoined twins

Irish conjoined twins Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf have won the “battle of their lives” after their marathon 14-hour separation surgery was hailed a success.

The Cork twins' parents, Angie and Azzedine, wore beaming smiles as they took a 3pm stroll in the sunshine outside Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, stopping to be hugged and congratulated by delighted parents of other children in the hospital.

The couple's two older children Malika, aged four, and Iman, aged two, proudly wore T-shirts dedicated to their brothers’ brave fight.

At one point, Angie was so overcome with relief and happiness that she got down on bended knees on the pavement outside the hospital to say a prayer.

The couple were given an impromptu hug by one London mother whose child was being treated in Great Ormond Street for a serious respiratory complaint .

“Thank you. We're so happy, so relieved,” Angie emotionally told the woman.

The couple declined to comment directly to the media but stressed in a statement that: “The sun is shining today for our two little fighters who have won the battle of their lives. Words cannot express the relief and love we feel for our two boys,” they added.

“We thank God, we thank the surgeons and the gifted team at Great Ormond Street and we thank from the bottom of our hearts the Irish nation and everyone who prayed for our beloved twins. We are so proud of the courage and strength Hassan and Hussein have shown and they have both made the world a much better place with them in it,” she said.

Hassan and Hussein are now in a stable condition in the intensive care unit where they are recovering from the gruelling operation.

The operation to separate the boys who were joined at the chest had been scheduled to last up to 20 hours but the 20-strong medical team were able to conclude the procedure in 14 hours.

The work of the surgeons was substantially aided by the fact the twins, from Carrigtwohill in Cork did not share major organs.

The couple maintained a vigil at the hospital with friends and relatives who travelled to London, taking care of their two older children to allow Angie and Azzedine to focus on the twins.

The couple went for a walk in the sunshine once the good news about the boys was confirmed.

Other mothers whose sick children were inside Great Ormond Street approached the Cork couple for a kind word a quick embrace or simply to hand over a message of support.

The couple's only break from their vigil beside Hassan and Hussein was a quick stroll down Guilford Road with their daughters for a quick coffee at Starbucks.

As they returned to the hospital, a smiling postman stepped forward to hand them a bundle of cards and support messages from all over Ireland.

The boys were born on December 2 in University Hospital London and since have confounded surgeons with their tenacious grip on life.Their care has been shared with Cork University Hospital.

Born prematurely, they were taken off a ventilator early, gained weight faster than expected and were deemed healthy and strong enough to undergo the procedure at the earliest possible date.

The Benhaffafs have now relocated to London where they are in temporary accommodation metres from the Hospital.

While the hospital declined to comment on the twins' recuperation period, it is expected that they will remain in London for between two and four months.

Their story will now feature in a special documentary by the flagship ITV show, Tonight.

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