Families celebrate GOSH's Conjoined Twins Day

27 Oct 2023, 8:15 a.m.

A group of families stand together to celebrate the meeting of six sets of twins. They are all grouped together in a room, and some of their clinicians and siblings are there too.

Six sets of twins came together to be seen by their different teams on Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Conjoined Twins’ Day. 

The Specialist Neonatal and Paediatric Surgery (SNAPS) team arranged the day so that the twins and their families had chance to meet each other, and in some cases be reunited.

From the youngest twins, Zayne and Zion, who are just six months old, to the eldest twins Hassan and Hussein, who are 13, all continue to be treated at GOSH.

On Friday they saw their teams including the SNAPs team, physiotherapy, orthopaedics and general paediatrics, and then got together for lunch.

One twin, a baby wearing a pink jumper, reaches out to touch the hand of an older twin, who is wearing a white t-shirt

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 – separating more twins than anywhere in the world.

Some of the more complex surgeries can take over 15 hours and need to be done in two separate theatre rooms at GOSH. Clinicians from 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 including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, speech and language therapists, and the Play team, who all perform a vital part in the care and rehabilitation following the operations. 

A group of staff stand on the stairs in Great Ormond Street Hospital looking down at the camera. Some are wearing uniforms.

We’re lucky that GOSH is one of the few places in the world that has so many skilled teams under one roof

Joe Curry, Senior Consultant Neonatal and Specialist Paediatric Surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital, led the separation of the most recent set of twins Zayne and Zion.

He said: “It was a great day to have the twins and their families together to celebrate how well they are all doing.

“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.”

A mum holding her six-month-old twin and smiling at him. Mum has a black and white coat on and the baby has a blue baby grow

They’ve given us our life and now we can show them all the things we can do

Ruby and Rosie were born conjoined. The girls were transferred to GOSH for specialist care when they were a few hours’ old. They were successfully separated the next day in a complex surgery. The twins are now 11 years old.

Rosie said: “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.

“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.”

Ruby said: “It was cool because of the other twins, hopefully we can do the same next year and maybe meet even more twins.”

Angela said: “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.”

Two sets of twins stand together.  The eldest set of twins are wearing pink jumpers with hearts on them and holding the younger twins who are wearing bright pink jumpers

I’ve always told them ‘you can do everything’

The eldest twins to take part in the day were Hassan and Hussein, who were born in 2009, and were separated when they were four months old.

Mum Angie has helped other families with conjoined twins through the months of pregnancy and birth.

She said: “They were born sharing everything except their hearts. 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.”

She added: “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.”

A set of twins are sat on separate physio beds throwing a basketball between them. Their physio stands in the middle. All are wearing sports clothes and are in the gym, which is brightly coloured and has the word strong on the wall in colourful lettering

The support of GOSH Charity

GOSH Charity has 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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