Once-conjoined twins eye paralympian glory in the future

Nine-year-olds Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf have endured 53 surgeries since birth

Screenshot from the video sent by Tom Hanks to the twins.

Screenshot from the video sent by Tom Hanks to the twins.


Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf who were born conjoined twins intend to become Paralympians.

They were separated successfully in 2010 at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and have endured 53 surgeries to date. The Cork nine-year-olds made international headlines after Hollywood actor Tom Hanks sent them a personalised Toy Story video.

Speaking to Cork’s 96FM Opinion Line, the boys’ mother, Angie Benhaffaf, said they were uncharacteristically dumbstruck when they first saw the Hanks video .

“I watched it first because the twins were still asleep. I completely teared up. Once the boys woke up and were sitting to have breakfast I put it on. Its very rarely that Hassan and Hussein are dumbfounded.

“They were speechless at first. Then in the middle of it they started giggling. Hassan kept saying, ‘is that the real Woody?’ It was pretty amazing,” she said.

The twins are energetic and love sports, including wall climbing.

“Every opportunity they have they amaze me. They are fantastic at their sports; they want to be paralympians. They are mad training at their athletics. They do wheelchair basketball. They do swimming with their scoliosis group. They do this on one leg!” she said.

The Hollywood movie has played a great part in their lives.

“On one occasion Hussein was pretty scared going for surgery without Hassan. Hassan gave him a loan of his Buzz toy to get him through it. The pair love dressing up as Buzz and Woody. However, as they get older they are finding it increasingly difficult to source costumes big enough for them,” she said.

The boys are set to receive their personalised Woody toys and letter from Tom Hanks later this week. The message was organised by Youghal family friend, Miceal O’Hurley.