Conjoined twins Akhizah and Ayeesha Yosoph touched down in Riyadh on May 5, 2024. Image Credit: SPA

Riyadh: Two young Filipino girls, Ayeesha and Akhizah, will undergo a complex surgery on Thursday to be separated.

This life-changing procedure is part of the renowned Saudi Conjoined Twins Program, established under the directives of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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The surgery, expected to last for 7.5 hours, will be performed by a highly skilled team of over 20 medical professionals at King Abdullah Specialized Children's Hospital (KASCH) in Riyadh, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The team will be led by Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, a distinguished pediatric surgeon and Supervisor General of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief).

Born on December 12, 2022, in the Philippines, Ayeesha and Akhizah are active and healthy despite being conjoined at the abdomen (thoraco-omphalopagus). Their journey to separation began when their case was presented to KSrelief by the Mercy Islamic Foundation in the Philippines. On May 5, 2024, they arrived in Riyadh with their mother and grandmother aboard a special medical evacuation flight.

The Saudi government will generously cover all expenses related to the surgery and recovery. Dr. Al Rabeeah, in a press statement, described the 16-month-old twins as conjoined at the lower chest and abdomen, sharing a liver. He highlighted their combined good health and complete set of limbs. After a thorough evaluation, the medical team determined that separation is achievable.

Expressing his gratitude to the Kingdom's leadership for their unwavering support, Dr. Al Rabeeah offered his sincere hope for a successful surgery. This operation will pave the way for Ayeesha and Akhizah's safe return home and a brighter future.

This surgery marks a significant milestone for the Saudi Conjoined Twins Program. Ayeesha and Akhizah will be the 61st pair to be separated by the program's team, and the second pair from the Philippines.

The program, established in 1990, has reviewed cases for 136 twins from 26 countries, offering hope and a chance at independent lives for many children.