A father of conjoined toddlers was faced with the heartbreaking ultimatum of saving one daughter’s life at the expense of the other.
Ibrahima Ndiaye’s impossible decision is detailed in a documentary set to air on BBC Two tomorrow night.
The 50-year-old father-of-six brought three-year-old twins Marieme and Ndeye from Senegal to the UK more than two years ago in the hope experts at Great Ormond Street Hospital could save them, The Guardian reports.
The girls have separate hearts, brains and lungs but share a digestive system, liver, bladder and three kidneys.
Only one in 200,000 births are conjoined
Marieme has a weak heart and a short life expectancy but is she dies so will sister Nideye.
Now Ibrahima must decide whether he wants to go ahead with an operation to separate the pair knowing one will not survive the procedure.
He said: “In this situation, you don’t use your brain, you follow your heart. Any decision is heartbreaking, so much turmoil, so many consequences.”
Ibrahima came to the UK having been turned away from hospitals in the US, Zimbabwe, Norway, Sweden, Belgium and Germany. He lost his job and his second wife in the process.
Ibrahima, who is now living in Cardiff, has also received guidance from the London hospital’s ethics committee, one of the first of its kind in the UK.
It’s one of the world leading centres for separating conjoined twins but Dr Joe Brierley, a consultant paediatrician and chair of the committee, said: “We can do unbelievable things compared to 20 or 30 years ago. But just because we can, it doesn’t always mean we should.”
Earlier this year Safa and Marwa Ullah from Pakistan, who were joined at the head, were separated in a series of operations which took 55 hours and more than 100 members of staff over four months.
Ibrahima decides he cannot put them through the operation, saying: “They are together, they are equal.”
According to the Mayo Clinic and University of Maryland Medical Center one twin survives 75% of the time during an operation.
The Conjoined Twins: An Impossible Decision airs on BBC Two at 9pm tomorrow