CORK’S formerly conjoined twins, Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf, are facing a week of surgical procedures when they return to the hospital where they were separated.
Angie Benhaffaf from Carrigtwohill will travel to Great Ormond Street Hospital in the London with the boys for a series of medical procedures relating to their ongoing development.
Almost nine years have passed since Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf survived 14-hour separation surgery at London University, but they continue to defy the odds.
The students of Educate Together National School in Midleton recently celebrated their ninth birthday with friends ahead of their trip.
Angie has been doing her best to keep life as upbeat as possible before they leave for the UK.
“The twins have been through around 52 operations between them,” Angie said.
“Hassan said he’s sick of operations getting in the way of fun. They’re getting older now so have a greater understanding of what they’re about to go through. The boys are so unique that on some days it’s only when they come in that the medical team can decide what to do.
“Hospital means they will have to miss going to the pantomime with their class which they were really disappointed about. However, no matter how tough a situation is we will find a positive somewhere. Hassan and Hussein refuse to let this define them.”
She said that handing her sons over to doctors brings her back to the day of their separation.
“The smells and noises of the hospital bring it all back. Handing the boys over that many times eventually takes its toll. We nearly lost the boys a few times.
“These were truly life or death situations. Everyone knows this is a hard place to be, but it’s also a very special place. Since the boys were separated there has been a lot of new staff and they are learning a lot from the boys.”
Information in the boy’s extensive medical files include details of the cuddly toys, Woody and Buzz, they bring to every operation.
“I recently attended a parent/teacher meeting where I was shown a story Hassan wrote. The children had been asked to write about their favourite toy. He told of how Woody is getting old now, but still attends every surgery. He’s very battered now. I always joke that Woody looks how mummy feels.”
The medical team at Great Ormond Street have gone above and beyond the call of duty for Angie and her family.
“We still meet the midwives who were at the birth, including Mary Dineen who originally hails from Sunday’s Well, and it’s like being among family now. They even bring the girls out from ice-cream. Kindness like this is rare these days. They have helped us more than they will ever realise.”