Twins' mother tells of 'dark clouds' over their recovery
THE MOTHER of conjoined Irish twin boys Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf has spoken of the "dark clouds" over their recovery from a marathon 14-hour separation surgery earlier this month.
But Angie Benhaffaf said an emotional 'thank you' last night as the first medical update since the boys were separated in a London hospital confirmed they were making daily progress.
A spokesman at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London confirmed to the Irish Independent that the four-month-old Cork boys were making "daily progress" and in a stable condition though they are still in intensive care.
"The surgical team had always anticipated a substantial period of recovery from this major surgery. They are broadly where the medical team expected them to be at this point," the GOSH spokesman added.
The boys -- who were joined at the chest and did not share any major organs -- were separated on April 7 after a 14-hour operation supervised by Cork-born surgeon Edward Kiely.
The hospital declined to comment further yesterday -- and would not be drawn on how much longer the two boys would have to remain in hospital.
However, their mother, Angie, revealed that bags of mail were being delivered to GOSH daily from well-wishers, supporters and fellow parents throughout Ireland and Britain.
Angie -- who has been living in London for the past month with her husband, Azzedine, and two older daughters, Malika (4) and Iman (2) -- said the overwhelming support of Irish people had helped get the family through the ordeal of the twins' surgery.
"The past two weeks have been extremely tough for our 'little fighters' and for me, Az and the girls," she explained.
"Even though the sun has shone since their separation, we've also had dark clouds that hovered over their little cots in intensive care and brought difficult days for them both.
"Both Hassan and Hussein have been through so much. We know there is still a long journey ahead. As parents, we sometimes feel helpless."
The supervising surgeon, Mr Kiely, has been based at GOSH since the mid-1980s and is regarded as one of the world's leading experts on separating conjoined twins.
The Benhaffafs are living in an apartment complex just metres from the hospital. They may have to stay in London until at least July, by which time it is hoped the twins will be healthy enough to return home.
The plight of the Benhaffafs has caught the imagination of the public in Ireland and Britain over the past few weeks -- with the success of the separation procedure earning coverage on all the major UK networks.
ITV is now planning a special documentary via its flagship programme, 'Tonight', after agreeing an exclusive deal with the family.
That programme is not expected to be broadcast until mid-May and the Benhaffafs have said they will not do any media interviews until after that date.