Twins in brave battle to walk

Former conjoined twins Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf are battling every day to walk like their little friends do.

They spend up to four hours each day on prosthetic limbs, walking with the aid of barriers, in their home and at the Enable Ireland centre in Cork.

Hassan had spinal surgery four months ago but he courageously continues to do his daily exercises on his prosthetic.

Although nobody can yet say when they will walk unaided, the 32-month-old pair happily demonstrated another travelling skill at the national twin festival at Keash, Co Sligo.

They whizzed about on their own ride-along cars which Santa delivered last Christmas.

Their mother Angie spoke at the festival about the boys’ brave battle to walk.

The twins were born in Dec 2009 and separated four months later following a 14-hour operation.

Angie said: “They got the prosthetics last October and they put them on twice a day for about two hours each time. They are progressing well but it’s going to be a very long process.

“We get them to walk holding on to the bar at home and they also visit Enable Ireland three to five times a week.”

The boys’ prosthetic limbs are straight and are reviewed every six months.

Angie said nobody can put a date on when the limbs will be fitted with knee joints. “They could be years away from walking unaided on the prosthetics but I am so lucky to have such determined sons.

“They are very positive and they are especially intelligent,” she said.

The boys’ two sisters, Malika, 8, and Iman, 5, had pink ride-on cars which were hidden beneath the stairs at home.

Angie said: “Ten months ago my little boys found them and pulled them out and got up on them. They did it all on their own.

“Then they got their own from Santa and they now play outside with them. They love playing with their neighbours’ children.”

Both boys have scoliosis which will need regular attention but Hassan’s is more severe and he underwent surgery in April.

Angie refuses to term them disabled and was upset when they were recently assessed for wheelchairs which they will have to use on occasion.

A total of 178 sets of twins gathered for the Sligo festival as well as three triplet families and one set of quads — 10-year-old Samantha, Michael, Nicola and Amanda Morris from Callan, Co Kilkenny.

The twins included three-year-old Alexandra and Taylor, daughters of Celbridge couple, Seamus Hanley and Alexandra Dermody, who were not expected to make it through premature labour. They defied the odds of survival — although Taylor suffered three heart attacks in one night when she was a few weeks old — and are now perfectly healthy.

The twins festival this year supported the Act for Meningitis charity.


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