After separation, former conjoined twins still together
Two boys enjoy active lives, but still retain habits they had while conjoined
Mother Angie Benhaffaf says that the first time she saw her twin boys that they were holding hands in her womb. The scan showed her two little boys Hassan and Hussein conjoined and facing impossible odds that they would have no hope of life. Three years later, the successfully separated boys are doing quite well - but still maintain the habits they had when they were conjoined.
The bond between Hassan and Hussein is so strong they still hold hands when they sleep, just as they did when they were conjoined twins.
Doctors had originally told Benhaffaf that even if one survived, the other would die shortly afterwards. In her bleakest, darkest moments, Benhaffaf struggled to overcome the thought that she would have to bury her babies.
The twins today are constantly whizzing around on their toy cars, scrambling up the stairs or tumbling around on the floor with their big sisters.
Both walk with the aid of newly-fitted prosthetic legs, plus specially designed frames on wheels.
"There's obviously a bit of competitiveness between them and they're pretty fearless," their mother says. "It's lovely to see."
He twins originally "shared just about everything" - including their liver and the pericardium sac membrane surrounding their hearts. Despite the risks, surgeons were able to separate them without life-threatening consequences.
Medical teams at London's University College Hospital, where they were born, and at nearby Great Ormond Street Hospital, a 14-hour operation to separate them was performed when they were six months old.
The twins recently celebrated their third birthday.
Angie recalls the time when she and her Algerian-born husband Azzedine, she bought two small teddy bear ornaments and had "Hassan and Hussein, 2009" inscribed on them, two weeks before the boys were born.
"The doctors had warned us it was highly unlikely they would survive the birth. In my heart, I realized there was a possibility we would be burying them at Christmas.
"I thought if they do die, I'd put the ornaments on the tree every year. That way, we'd still have them with us in memory.
"It's really painful but every year, that's what I have done, just to remember how many times we nearly lost them both.
"Now I look at the two of them, and see how happy they are, and feel so very grateful just to have them. We see them as our little miracles. When we are all together in this house, that's all that really matters," she says.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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