The family of Ireland’s miracle twins Hassan and Hussein Benhaffhaf has issued a message of hope to mark the 10th anniversary of their separation surgery.
They said dreams do come true, and the twins have reminded people to wash their hands and stay at home as they begin day 25 in isolation at home in East Cork.
Proud mum Angie said while the family had hoped to mark today’s milestone with a party, but the celebrations are on hold until the Covid-19 crisis passes.
“I had always dreamt that today we would gather with some of the medical people, the air corps team, and all the people involved in their journey, to say thank you, to show them that as a result of their work, here’s where we are today,” she said.
“Obviously that big party isn’t going to happen today, but the better gift is to share a message of hope. And to say that now more than ever, we appreciate all those on frontline.”
The twins were born joined at the chest in London University Hospital in December 2009 and were soon dubbed ‘the little fighters’.
Just four months later, on April 7, 2010, they underwent a complex and high-risk 16-hour separation operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, overseen by Dr Edward Kiely.
Angie recalled that difficult night a decade ago when she put her babies’ lives in Dr Kiely’s hands.
“I spent that last night with them as conjoined twins scared to sleep. I held them in my arms all night because I didn’t know if we would ever see them again,” she said.
The twins defied the odds to survive the surgery and were home within weeks.
They have endured over 50 major operations over the years, and more surgery is planned, but they have thrived.
They now enjoy indoor wall-climbing, swimming, gymnastics, basketball, and athletics and hope to represent Ireland at Paralympic level in a few years.
Angie said the last three weeks in isolation have given her time to reflect and to appreciate the importance of the ‘simple things’.
She recalled how on Mother’s Day, the boys brought her breakfast in bed — toast and cookies, a cold cup of tea, and a peeled orange, served on Toy Story plates — and how the twins, and their big sisters, Malika, 16, and Iman, 12, presented her with homemade cards.
Later, the family enjoyed a posh afternoon tea, with the boys donning tuxedos to serve the treats.
“The children made the day so so special. It is those simple moments you will remember,” she said.
“Yes, there is heartache out there, with sickness and deaths. Yes, there is sadness too, with so many job losses, but there is also hope.
“And as hard as this period is, I hope it will make us all better people.”