Little fighters accept award
THE family of the successfully separated Irish conjoined twins are counting down the days to their first birthday.
Their parents, Angie and Azzedine Benhaffaf, yesterday proudly showed off their 11-month-old boys Hassan and Hussein, and said the active pair were in fighting form.
Their two older sisters Malika (6) and Iman (3) were also on hand as the Cork family received the Special Merit Award at the Maternity and Infant Awards at a ceremony in Dublin's Shelbourne Hotel for their "courage and bravery" displayed during a difficult time.
The family received a standing ovation from the hundreds of people present as they took to the stage.
Mrs Benhaffaf revealed they had a special day planned to mark the boys' first birthday on December 2. The pair were lively and squirming in their delighted parents' arms.
"In three weeks' time, we have a really special first birthday that's a real milestone. This time last year we never imagined having our two little fighters celebrate their first birthday and they are here now, our two little miracles," she said.
An emotional Mrs Benhaffaf told how the boys have to return to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London on Tuesday next for treatment. "We return to London next week; none of us are keen on going back to the hospital so this has been a nice distraction," she said.
She added that next year it was hoped the boys, who only have one leg each, will be fitted with prosthetics.
An ITV film crew, which is following the family for a follow-up documentary which will air next month, were also present at the awards.
"The boys face a lot of challenges still, but they have a wonderful fighting spirit and a family who love them to bits," said Mrs Benhaffaf.
She said the award was being accepted on behalf of all those who had helped them throughout their first year since they were delivered on December 2, 2009, at the University College Hospital in London.
The pair were separated in a 14-hour long operation last April.
Another child hailed for an inspirational attitude was the 'Child Hero' of the year -- Adelina Corigliano (10), from Whitegate, Co Cork.
The schoolgirl, when aged seven, spent six-months in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin, after being diagnosed with cancer.
"It was unbelievable, it was your worst nightmare," her mother Lynda Corigliano said.
"She never once complained, she was always jolly and upbeat," her father, Pasquale, added.
Another Cork native, little Zak Collins (6) from Ballincollig, took the 'Young Achiever' award after the golf prodigy represented Ireland and finished 36th at the US Kids Golf World Championship.
Proud mother and father, Denis and Stephanie, explained Zak had learned after getting a pair of children's plastic clubs at the age of two. "He never played with toys, it was always sports," his mother said.