By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

CONJOINED TWINS. Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Mardomel Celo Melicor, Philippine Red Cross Chairman and CEO Richard Gordon, Hashima Yusoph, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) Ambassador to the Philippines Hisham Sultan Abdullah Alqahtani (left to right), and members of the Saudi medical team and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center pose for a photo after a media briefing at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Makati City on Friday (May 3, 2024). The twins Akhizah and Ayeesha Yusoph and their mother are set to fly to KSA on Sunday (May 5, 2024) for their surgery. (PNA photo by Jess Escaros)

MANILA – Filipino conjoined twins are set to fly to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) on May 5 for surgery.

In a media briefing on Friday, KSA Ambassador to the Philippines Hisham Sultan Abdullah Alqahtani said the medical help that would be provided to the twins Akhizah and Ayeesha Yusoph is part of their commitment to care for and concentrate on humanitarian work.

“This humanitarian work reflects one of the prominent achievements of the kingdom in the field of separating conjoined twins and providing outstanding medical care, where the kingdom has become a pioneer in the field,” he said.

“It is expected that this noble humanitarian direction will positively impact the Filipino society, as it will help provide conjoined twins the opportunity to receive necessary treatment and overcome the health challenges they face.”

The KSA has performed 100 separation surgeries for conjoined twins from various countries.

Philippine Red Cross (PRC) chairman and CEO Richard Gordon said the initiative is a “big help” for the Yusoph twins who could get good jobs and a better life in the future.

“This is a strong gesture of Kingdom of Saudi people, of their King to help these people, these children. For PRC, usually, we provide support, maybe to their nutrition when they come back,” Gordon said.

He noted that this is the second time that the KSA is performing surgery for conjoined twins from the Philippines, after the successful separation of Ann and Mae Manzo in Riyadh in March 2004.

The twins will be accompanied by their 19-year-old mother, Hashima Yusoph, throughout the whole procedure, which costs more than PHP500,000.

Wala naman akong iniisip na kaba, kasi wala naman sila sinasabi sa akin na ganun, na komplikasyon. Iniisip ko kung paano ko sila maaalagaan bilang nanay, at may nag-refer sa amin na matulungan kami (I don’t have worries because I am told there would be no complications. I was thinking how I could care for them as a mother, and someone referred us so we can get help),” she said in an interview on the sidelines of the media briefing.

The twins are 16 months old and were born in Panabo City, Davao del Norte province. Their bodies share one liver.

The Saudi medical team and members of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, headed by Mr. Ibrahim Nasser Alsakran, arrived in Manila on Friday to bring them to KSA aboard a medically equipped evacuation plane. (PNA)