Feature: Yemeni conjoined twins in besieged rebel-held capital could die awaiting evacuation: medics

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-09 22:42:14|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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by Mohamed al-Azaki

SANAA, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- It takes only 15-minute drive to Yemen's capital Sanaa airport from the al-Thawra hospital, but the newborn conjoined twins there would have to wait for days or maybe weeks to be allowed to travel abroad for urgent lifesaving treatment.

The civil war has forced a total ban on all civilian flights to and from Sanaa airport, which caused deaths of dozens of patients in critical conditions who could not endure days of travel by land across mountains and desert for treatment abroad.

The two-week-old Abdulrahman and Abdulrahim al-Haymi had been accepted to receive treatment or separate surgery in neighboring oil-rich Saudi Arabia, following an appeal made earlier this week by the Yemeni doctors to the United Nations to help arrange for the boys' transport.

"Arrangement were being made to transfer the newborn conjoined twins from Sanaa to the kingdom as soon as possible," official Saudi Press Agency reported last Wednesday.

However, doctors in Sanaa al-Thawra hospital said the health system has collapsed in the war-ravaged country and the boys could not survive for a long time.

"Unfortunately, the boys' health has been worsening and they are taking their last breath," Faisal al-Babily, head of Paediatrics Department of al-Thawra hospital, told Xinhua.

Shared a liver, kidney, two arms, two legs and one genitalia, the conjoined twins have been helped to breath in an incubator at the child intensive care unit since they were born 15 days ago in the hospital.

"Since the birth of the twins, we have repeated our appeals to the United Nations, international organizations and the countries of the Saudi-led coalition for immediate help to allow the evacuation of the boys to any medical centers abroad for urgent treatment," al-Babily said.

He said his department and the hospitals in Yemen are not capable of providing any help to the twins or perform a special medical care or separation surgery at all because the twins share two arms, two legs and one genitalia.

"With deep sorrow, we till now have not yet received any response from the United Nations or the countries of the Saudi-led coalition to transport the boys," al-Babily lamented.

The parents of the conjoined twins were not present at the hospital because they are very poor, according to the medics. Sanaa airport has been blockaded for more than three years now by the Saudi-led military coalition backing the Yemeni internationally-recognized government.

The United Nations has been pushing for the implementation of a peace deal reached in Stockholm between the Yemeni rival parties in December last year, which included the re-opening of Sanaa airport for commercial and civil flights.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been leading an Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after the Houthi rebels forced him into exile and seized much of the country's north, including Sanaa.