Page last updated at 12:55 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 13:55 UK

Conjoined twins Hassan and Hussein separated in op

Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf
The twins Hassan and Hussein did not share any major organs

Conjoined twins who were born in London have been successfully separated in a complex 14-hour operation.

Four-month-old Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf, who were conjoined at the chest, underwent surgery at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Consultant paediatric surgeon Edward Kiely said: "The twins are in intensive care and are sedated but stable. We are pleased with how the operation went."

The boys came from their home in the Irish Republic for the operation.

Their parents, Angie and Azzedine Benhaffaf, from East Cork, said: "The sun is shining today for our two little fighters, who have won the battle of their lives.

"Words cannot express the relief and love we feel for our two boys. We thank God, we thank the surgeons and the gifted team at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and we thank from the bottom of our hearts the Irish nation and everyone who prayed for our beloved twins.

Conjoined twins are extremely rare, occurring in as few as one in every 200,000 live births
They are created just a few days after conception - most likely by the incomplete splitting of the fertilised egg
Most are stillborn, and a proportion of those who are born alive do not survive long afterwards

"We are so proud of the courage and strength that Hassan and Hussein have shown, and they both have made the world a much better place with them in it."

The operation involved about 20 medical staff, including four surgeons and four anaesthetists, working in shifts.

The team had previously dealt with 21 separations and nine inoperable cases.

The twins, born at University College London Hospital, did not share any major organs despite being joined at the chest.

There were fears when Mrs Benhaffaf was pregnant that the boys might share a heart, and after they were born on 2 December she said the operation to separate them would be their "final battle".

The family, including daughters Malika, four, and Iman, two, moved to London for the operation and are expected to remain for up to four months while the twins recover.

A special fund was set up in Ireland to help the family cover their medical costs.

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