Conjoined twins prepare to take their first brave steps to school
Formerly conjoined twins Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf are on course to walk into their classrooms on their first day of school next year.
The four-year-old boys' parents said their 'little fighters' have been making strong progress on their prosthetic limbs in the past months and are becoming more independent and mobile by the day.
And their mother Angie Benhaffaf said she has every confidence that the boys will be ready to cope with the physical demands of national school in September of next year.
Angie, from Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork, said: "It's incredible what they can do. When we take them to the playground, people are amazed to see them both scramble up a 20ft slide on their own.
"The boys could have started school this September, but my gut feeling tells me they're physically not quite ready.
"They're doing great on their prosthetic limbs, but it would be too big a step for them to start going into school five days a week.
"Also, I don't think they're emotionally quite ready for school yet.
"Not every child at school is necessarily going to be kind to them or understanding and I've noticed one or two incidents over the summer when something was said to the boys which upset them.
"But I think that by September next year they'll be more than ready to start school."
Last Friday Angie hosted a charity lunch at Cork's plush Maryborough House Hotel to raise much-needed funds for Straight Ahead, a group which specialises in helping children with spinal deformities and scoliosis.
But Angie ensured her mischievous sons stayed at home with their father, Azzedine, for the duration of the event, to ensure that everything ran as smoothly as possible.
She said: "The boys are getting more and more mischievous by the day and you never know what they might get up to, so I didn't want to risk letting them loose at the Maryborough Hotel. I took my older daughters, Malika and Imaan, along with me instead."
Meanwhile, Hassan - who was joined from the chest to the pelvis to his brother when he was born - will return to Great Ormond Street next month for surgery to straighten his spine. The youngster requires the operation every six months until adulthood.