'Little fighters' are toast of town
THEY have crammed a lot into their six short months, and now Ireland's "little fighters" can add a civic reception to the list.
Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf were the toast of Cork last night as they were welcomed to City Hall by Lord Mayor Dara Murphy.
Despite all the commotion, the twins, who were born conjoined but were separated in April following a marathon 14-hour operation, seemed oblivious as they arrived in a white limousine with parents, Angie and Azzedine, and sisters Malika (4) and Iman (2).
The boys showed their Rebel pride by sporting Cork GAA jerseys for the occasion.
And despite being separated, the brothers were still a close twosome, explained Angie.
"Once they are put in the same pram together, they interact with each other and hold each other and touch each other exactly the same way as when they were joined, so, for us, the only difference is that they are separated, but in reality everything else has stayed the same.
"They are still sleeping in the same cot, still in the same pram, and they are still our little fighters," she added.
She thanked the people of Ireland for their thoughts and prayers, saying "they got us through it".
Both she and Azzedine said they were now looking forward to things settling down.
"We just want to have quality family time and do normal stuff we've missed out on for the past six months," said Angie.
A number of the medical professionals who have treated the twins since their birth last December also attended the reception, including Cork-born surgeon Edward Kiely, of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, who oversaw the operation to separate them.
Obstetric consultant Pat O'Brien, who delivered the twins at University College Hospital, London, also attended the party.
"It's just brilliant to see people come along after being stressed and worried and being given what they see as really bad news, and then to see the babies do so well at the end of the day. It's so rewarding," he said.
Meanwhile, their proud aunt, Shirley O'Leary, said the family were thrilled that the boys could now look forward to a normal life.