Conjoined Senegalese twins, 4 who moved to the UK at 7 months old, brave the odds by doing well in their Cardiff elementary school as father calls their progress a "Herculean feat"
- Marieme and Ndeye from Senegal who now live in Cardiff are twins
- Her father Ibrahima Ndiaye, 50, sought help at Great Ormond Street Hospital
- Doctors expected the bandaged twins to die within days of their birth
- Despite all adversity, the twins settle in Cardiff Elementary School
Conjoined twins, who were expected to die after childbirth, defied the odds by entering elementary school four years later.
Ibrahima Ndiaye, 50, brought his daughters Marieme and Ndeye from Senegal to the UK when they were seven months old in 2017 to seek help at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
The twins have separate brains, hearts, and lungs, but share a liver, bladder, digestive system, and three kidneys. Ibrahima was told by doctors that they would not survive long after they were born.
However, the two have made good progress and settled in their Cardiff elementary school. Her father says it was a "Herculean feat" and an unfathomable thought when his daughter was born.
The two twins Marieme and Ndeye Ndiaye (pictured) were supposed to die after their birth, but despite all the difficulties they resisted when they started primary school four years later
Speaking to BBC News, he said, "When you look in the rear-view mirror, it was an unattainable dream."
& # 39; From now on, everything in front of me will be a bonus to me. My heart and soul scream loudly, “Come on! Next girl! Surprise me more! & # 39;
The twins had to go to school between hospital visits but are said to have made many friends and enjoyed their classes.
At the Tŷ Hafan Children's Hospice, the sisters learned what it feels like to stand with a special frame that helps them stand upright and build leg strength.
The two have made good progress and settled in their Cardiff elementary school, which according to their father is a "Herculean feat".
Ibrahima Ndiaye, 50, (pictured) brought his Senegalese daughter to the UK when she was seven months old in 2017 to seek help at Great Ormond Street Hospital
Although the couple continues to surprise doctors, Marieme's heart is weak and her life expectancy is poor. If she dies, her sister dies too
What are conjoined twins?
Connected twins occur when a sibling's skin or internal organs are fused together. It affects around one in 200,000 live births.
Conjoined twins are caused by a fertilized egg that begins to split into two embryos a few weeks after conception. However, the process stops before it completes.
The most common type are twins, joined at the chest or stomach. The success of a separation operation depends on where the twins come together.
Doctors cannot determine which organs the siblings share until after the birth, so they plan an operation.
Omphalopagus twins are joined near the belly button and often share a liver, but generally no heart.
Craniopagus twins are joined on the back, top, or side of the head, but not on the face.
Earlier this year, Safa and Marwa Ullah from Pakistan, who were at the forefront, were separated on Great Ormond Street in London.
More than 100 staff treated the girls in a series of operations over four months that lasted 55 hours.
At least one twin survives 75 percent of the time they're apart.
Sources: Mayo Clinic and University of Maryland Medical Center
Last year surgeons on Great Ormond Street considered trying a breakup, but Ibrahima decided against it because the procedure meant one of his daughters would not be alive.
In the BBC documentary The Conjoined Twins: An Impossible Decision, which aired last year, the father of six, Ibrahima, faced the dilemma of saving one of his daughters but letting the other die.
During one of the meetings with the surgeon, Dr. Brierley Ibrahima, what will happen if he does not separate his daughters.
He said, "Marieme's dying process will be Ndeye's dying process – there is no way to stop or change that … (and) there will be no option to separate them once Marieme begins to die."
In the end, Ibrahima decided that he couldn't separate the girls and knew that he had caused Marieme's death.
In the documentary, Ibrahima says that he had contacted health professionals around the world looking for a solution after his daughters were born before Great Ormond Street Hospital could help him.
He said, “When I tried to find a solution for the Senegalese girls, it wasn't easy because the contacts I have had around the world are just nothing we can do.
& # 39; (They said) don't put too much hope in the girls, it's just a matter of weeks. They have no hope of surviving with their condition.
"But when I got in touch with Great Ormond Street Hospital, it was the first time I heard in a hospital that you can come and see what we can do."
Ibrahima has since established a foundation called "Conjoined Destiny" on his daughter's behalf to raise awareness of her condition and to help others who may have similar complications.
The family aims to help other children with complex health problems in the UK and Africa receive the practical help they need to live "independently and dignified".
They also want to fund the Great Ormond Street Hospital and Tŷ Hafan charities.
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