Six sets of twins celebrate GOSH’s own Conjoined Twins Day
27 Oct 2023, 8:32 a.m.
Last week, GOSH hosted a “Conjoined Twins Day”, organised by the hospital's Specialist Neonatal and Paediatric Surgery (SNAPS) team.
The day was an opportunity for six sets of twins and their families to meet and, in some cases, reunite.
From the youngest twins, Zayne and Zion, who are six months old, to the eldest, Hassan and Hussein, who are 13, all continue to be treated at GOSH.
Each set of twins met with their different teams at GOSH before getting together for pizza.
GOSH has separated more conjoined twins than anywhere in the world
The first successful separation of conjoined twins at GOSH took place in 1985 by Professor Lewis Spitz and Dr Edward Kiely.
Since then, over 38 sets of conjoined twins have been cared for at GOSH. The hospital has separated more conjoined twins than anywhere in the world.
Some of the more complex surgeries can take over 15 hours and are carried out in two separate theatre rooms.
Clinicians from various specialities – including orthopaedics, haematology, urology, general surgery, plastics, anaesthetics and intensive care – are involved.
The teams also include dedicated paediatricians, ward nurses and allied health professionals – such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, speech and language therapists – and the Play team. All play a vital part in the care and rehabilitation following the operations.
Joe Curry, Senior Consultant Neonatal and Specialist Paediatric Surgeon at GOSH, led the separation of Zayne and Zion.
“It was a great day to have the twins and their families together to celebrate how well they are all doing,” he says.
“It’s impossible to list all those involved in their care, but we’re lucky that GOSH is one of the few places in the world that has so many skilled teams under one roof to separate conjoined twins and give them the best possible treatment.”
“They’ve given us our life and now we can show them all the things we can do”
11-year-old Ruby and Rosie were born conjoined.
They were transferred to GOSH for specialist care when they were just a few hours old. They were successfully separated the next day in a complex surgery.
“I liked seeing all the twins who were like me and my sister, it was like one big family as we’ve all been through similar things,” Rosie says.
“It was nice to see the surgeons and nurses as they’ve given us our life and now we can show them all the things we can do.”
“It was cool because of the other twins, hopefully we can do the same next year and maybe meet even more twins,” Ruby adds.
Their mum, Angela, also enjoyed the day.
“It was really nice to meet other families, as I didn’t know other families at the time and it felt very, very lonely.
“I remember trying to find anyone else in the world who was going through it, it was really scary and so it must be nice for the other parents to meet families whose children are now older.”
Hassan and Hussein: ‘big brothers’ for the other twins
The eldest twins at the event, Hassan and Hussein, were separated when they were four months old.
“They were born sharing everything except their hearts,” their mum Angie explains.
“Since the day they were separated the twins have excelled everyone’s expectations. They are now almost 14 and living life to their fullest.
“They dream of becoming Paralympians and have already represented Ireland twice in the DSE games, bringing home three gold and three silver medals."
“Their favourite hobby is indoor wall climbing and they are determined to show the world ‘never judge a book by its cover’. I’ve always told them ‘you can do everything the same as every other child... but better'.
“The boys also want to be like ‘big brothers’ for the other twins so they can talk to someone who understands, support them and encourage them to let nothing hold them back.”
Angie has helped other families with conjoined twins through the months of pregnancy and birth.
How we’re making a difference
Here at GOSH Charity, we’ve supported pioneering research that has helped GOSH treat more cases of conjoined twins than any other hospital in the world.
This has included raising £300,000 to help fund innovative techniques including VR, 3D planning and printing, which has been key in helping experts at GOSH perform surgery to separate conjoined twins.
Money raised has also funded the Morgan Stanley Clinical Building, which houses Theatre 10 – a specialist operating theatre designed with enough space and the right equipment to facilitate this life-saving surgery.
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