Conjoined twin boys who were born in war-torn Yemen on Wednesday are in “critical condition”, according to their doctors who are urgently appealing for help.
The boys were born in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, which since 2014 has been controlled by Iran-backed Houthi rebels. Over years of war and air blockades, like much of the rest of the country, it’s economy and healthcare system have been destroyed.
“An echocardiogram showed that each of the two children had their own heart, though the position of the heart of one of them is not normal,” Majda al-Khatib, the director of Al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, told AFP news agency.
She added that the hospital did not have the necessary equipment to accurately determine “which organs are connected”.
The war in Yemen has resulted in what the UN describe as the world’s biggest humanitarian disaster, with the country of 30 million plagued by conflict, starvation, disease and now coronavirus. The current conditions of hospitals in Sanaa make dealing with complex cases such as conjoined twins almost an impossibility.
Making access to treatment more difficult, Sanaa’s airport is closed for commercial flights because of an air blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition, who have been waging war in Yemen against the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Houthis, since 2015.
According to Dr Khatib “there is certainly a chance for them (the twins) to leave Yemen in order to be separated if the relevant authorities cooperate”.
“This is important and essential,” she said.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center tweeted on Friday that they are ready to “have their cases examined by medical professionals in Saudi Arabia and look into the possibility of separating them.”
Dr Khatib said the health ministry is pleading with the UN to get the children medical attention abroad.
“UNICEF is looking at all options to get the babies out of Yemen so that they can receive treatment,” Juliette Touma, the UN agency’s chief of communications for the Middle East, told the Telegraph.
In February 2019 another pair of conjoined twins who were born in Sanaa and desperately needed help died just two weeks after their birth.