Wednesday 28 September 2016

Once-conjoined boys get ready for school

Published 03/08/2015 | 02:30

Looking forward to school: Benhaffaf twins Hassan and Hussein, playing with their friends, Emily Bernard and Caitlin Egan, at the Wendy House Montessori School in Carrigtwohill.
Photo: David Keane
Looking forward to school: Benhaffaf twins Hassan and Hussein, playing with their friends, Emily Bernard and Caitlin Egan, at the Wendy House Montessori School in Carrigtwohill. Photo: David Keane

Former conjoined twins, Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf, will start school in three weeks' time with their mother admitting it will be a "very emotional" day for the entire family.

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The five-year-old Cork boys plan to be able to walk unaided into Midleton's Educate Together School - and their mother, Angie, hopes they will be able to walk hand-in-hand as they support each other.

But while other youngsters think nothing of going to school for the first time, it will be nothing short of a miracle for Hassan and Hussein.

The boys were born conjoined in December 2009 and were successfully separated four months later following marathon 20-hour surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

Since then, Hassan and Hussein have learned to walk, first with the aid of walking frames and then with special prosthetics they dubbed "superhero legs".

Angie admitted it is a day she has been dreaming about.

"I always said, when the boys were separated, that the ultimate dream, please God, was that I would see one day them walking into school together, holding hands, on their own. It will be a big step. (But) it was a very emotional day when the girls started school too."

Angie will host a special charity fundraiser for 'Ladies Wear Red for Straight Ahead' at the Maryborough House Hotel in Cork on August 14.

'Straight Ahead' performs major orthopaedic operations for children on waiting lists who urgently need surgery.

"Hassan has congenital scoliosis and, like many, was stuck on the waiting list. But if a child is on a list, they get worse and their condition deteriorates," explained Angie."It (Straight Ahead) is a group of surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses who once a month, on their day off, work for free."

Irish Independent

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