Conjoined twins reunited after first time apart

The mother of conjoined twins has told how her sons were reunited yesterday after being apart for the first time in their lives while little Hassan Benhaffaf underwent spine surgery.

Cork mother Angie Benhaffaf told how her 26-month-old sons pined for each other for the past week as Hassan had metal rods inserted in his spine in the operating theatre at Crumlin Children’s Hospital to treat his congenital scoliosis.

Since their marathon 14-hour separation operation just over two years ago the twins have stunned the medical world with their progress and were even fitted for a prosthetic limb each late last year.

Angie said yesterday on 2FM that she was delighted to be bringing twin Hassan home to his brother Hussein yesterday as she prepared to leave the Dublin hospital.

“Hassan has gone through a really tough week. This time last week I was handing him over for surgery on his spine,” Angie said.

“It’s the first time Hassan has been away from his twin brother Hussein. It’s the first time we’ve ever have been apart from the family.

“Even when we went to London it was the six of us against the world. It actually broke my heart to be apart from them.”

Angie said Hassan’s twin Hussein was wandering around their Cork home looking for the brother who has been by his side throughout his life.

“For the first few days Hussein was very upset and looking for Hassan from room to room calling for his ‘Dodo’. That’s their pet name for each other.

“Hassan didn’t look for Hussein as much as Hussein looked for him. He’s the more outgoing of the two,” Angie said.

Last Friday — just a day before the second anniversary of the gruelling operation to separate the conjoined twins — Hassan was wheeled into theatre on his own for back surgery.

She said the pair, who have their own special way of communicating with each other, were in contact by phone during Hassan’s hospital stay.

“They have a complete language that I don’t think the English dictionary has. It’s like twin babble, as I call it. They have their own complete set of words.”

While both boys have made an extraordinary recovery from their separation, their mum told Dave Fanning yesterday that Hassan’s scoliosis needed urgent surgery.

She said: “Basically it’s curvature of the spine. With Hassan’s scoliosis, most of the damage was done while he was in the womb.

“Hussein has postural scoliosis while Hassan has congenital. With postural through him wearing special orthotic suit 24/7 it is helping to straighten his spine.

“But Hassan’s got so much worse. He just needed urgent surgery. ”

In an extraordinary co-incidence, she said the nephew of the Irish surgeon, Edward Kiely — who carried out the separation surgery in Great Ormond St Hospital two years ago — performed the operation on Hassan’s spine last weekend.

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