Wednesday 25 April 2018

Twins (8) who were conjoined at birth fulfil their dreams at Shannon Airport

Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf at Shannon Airport
Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf at Shannon Airport
Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf at Shannon Airport
Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf at Shannon Airport
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Ireland’s most special twins had their dreams come true today as they took on the role of Operation Managers at Shannon Airport.

Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf, who were conjoined at birth but survived a miraculous operation to separate them, have spent the last eight years of their lives in and out of surgery.

Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf at Shannon Airport
Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf at Shannon Airport

The Cork twins, who have already had 45 operations and are facing a lifetime of surgery, landed at Shannon and boldly took to their temporary task as operations managers.

The initiative was all part of a weekend treats in the region put together for the twins by 'Share A Dream' founder Shay Kinsella after he met the boys and their mother Angie.

“We’ve had a brilliant two days and today at Shannon capped it all," Angie said.

"The airport staff couldn’t have been more helpful. It’s a busy day for the airport but they were so generous with their time and the boys loved every minute of it.”

Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf at Shannon Airport
Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf at Shannon Airport

Their visit to Shannon Airport today followed a visit to ‘Dreamland Limerick’ - the first fully accessible, inclusive fun centre in Ireland, before checking into the 5-Star Savoy Hotel for an overnight stay.

The courageous twins got the VIP treatment as they got to go behind the scenes to see how Shannon Airport works.

This included a visit to the fire station where they met with Fire & Police staff and got to become honorary firemen.

Next stop was an overview of the airport’s security screening and operations facilities before being given a quick instruction on life of a pilot.

For this element they enjoyed a tour of an Aer Lingus plane and a special visit to the cockpit where they met Aer Lingus Captain Gerry Guthrie.

The VIP treatment continued when the twins and their family visited the Airport’s Presidential Suite where they signed the visitor’s book and wrote their names alongside famous dignitaries who have visited the airport over the years.

Said Airport Operations Director Niall Maloney: “We’ve had VIP’s coming through Shannon for decades, among them some of the most famous people in the world but I’m not sure we’ve met any as special as these two boys.

“Airports are magical places for youngsters but the boys are magical in their own right and we were absolutely delighted to have them. This was about a treat for them but it was a treat for us also. They’re an inspiration and Shannon Airport is now officially a big fan of theirs. We’ll be keeping up to date with their progress and wishing them well every inch of the way. As our chosen staff charity for 2018 we were delighted to support the Share a Dream Foundation in making the boys’ wishes come true.”

Said Shay Kinsella, Share A Dream Founder said that the boys "deserve the special trip".

“This has been a great two days for the boys and they deserve it. Shannon Airport came up trumps for them. We just put the ask into the airport and Niall Maloney and all of the airport staff couldn’t have been more welcoming.  It’s easy know why Shannon has such a strong community reputation; they really get behind you as we’ve seen today with the boys. They smiled from ear to ear and they have made true friends in the boys and their family for sure.”

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