Father of conjoined twins faces separation surgery that could kill one but save the other

Father of conjoined twins faces separation surgery that could kill one but save the other

A father of conjoined twins has been forced to choose whether to separate his two daughters, in a surgery that would risk the life of one to save the other.

Ibrahima Ndiaye, who hails from Senegal, brought sisters Marieme and Ndeye to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London when they were only seven-months-old, due to their many health problems. He has also sought treatment for their ailments at hospitals in Belgium, Germany, Zimbabwe, Norway, Sweden, and America.

The two girls share a digestive system, liver, bladder and three kidneys, but they have separate brains, hearts, and lungs.

However, Marieme's heart is weaker than Ndeye's. If she dies her conjoined sister will also die. Ibrahima now has a sadistic choice to make: to save one of them by separating them with surgery, which could risk killing both.

Commenting on his unfortunate circumstances in a BBC documentary due to air on Saturday, August 4, Ibrahima (who currently resides with his daughters in Cardiff, Wales) stated: "In this situation, you don’t use your brain, you follow your heart. Any decision is heartbreaking, so much turmoil, so many consequences [...] My girls are warriors and the world needs to know this."

Joe Brierley, a consultant pediatrician and chairman of Great Ormond Street's Clinical Ethics Committee told the BBC: "We can do unbelievable things compared to 20 or 30 years ago. But just because we can, it doesn’t always mean we should ... Marieme’s dying process will be Ndeye’s dying process – it isn’t possible to stop that or change it … [And] it won’t be an option to separate them once Marieme starts to die."

Earlier this year, surgeons at the British hospital managed to save the lives of two Pakistani twins who were joined at the head, Safa and Marwa Ullah from Pakistan. After a series of procedures totaling 55 hours, deploying more than 100 members of staff over the course of four months, the two young girls were saved.