Overwhelming show of love for Ayeni Twins
How LHF Facilitated Free Separation Of Conjoined Girls In US Hospital
The role played by Linking Hands Foundation (LHF), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), in the successful separation of the Ayeni conjoined twin girls- Miracle and Testimony, has raised the bar in what an average NGO can do to bring succour to the less privileged.
Coming at a time when many of such groups have commercialised their activities, for the economic benefit of their arrowheads, LHF, using its network drew the attention of all stakeholders to the plight of the parents of the twins who hail from Odoere, in Yagba West Local Council of Kogi State, but resident in Enugu State.
Interestingly, founder of the LHF, Mrs. Efe Farinre, was reluctant in engaging the media for any publicity on the subject, while galvanising support for a successful surgery.
But after the successful operation, Farinre explained how her outfit revved up efforts to ensure that the story had a sweet ending
“As part of our Every-Child-Counts Initiative, LHF made a commitment to help solicit financial and non-financial support for all aspects of the care and medical needs of Miracle and Testimony. We reached out to individuals, organisations, corporations and government on behalf of the Ayeni twins. The beauty of the story is how Everyday Nigerians did their bit such that Nigeria and the world have this to celebrate,” the founder started.
According to her, the girls were born in Enugu State, on November 16, 2015, to Mr. Samuel Olusegun Ayeni and Mrs. Mary Abiodun Ayeni, both from Kogi State. “And LHF was introduced to the Ayeni family on January 6, 2016 via a phone call from an extended friend, an everyday Nigerian.”
The life-changing operation, a highly complex and extremely risky procedure which was carried out free of charge by Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, United States (US), went on for 18 hours, between November 7 and 8, 2016.
The announcement of the successful procedure on the twins was made on their first birthday, on November 16, 2016, by the hospital.
Farinre continued, “LHF owes a debt of gratitude to our volunteer medical adviser, Dr. Opesanmi Esan, a cardiologist at MidMichigan Medical Center, Michigan, United States for the link to Dr. Uzoma Ben Gbulie, of Le Bonheur Childrens Hospital, both everyday Nigerians in the Diaspora.
“LHF wrote formally to Le Bonheur Childrens on January 24, 2016, requesting pro-bono treatment for the Ayeni twins, and Dr. Gbulie helped with follow-up. We are grateful to the hospital, for taking on the treatment of the twins at no charge.”
She explained that prior to receiving the great news from the hospital on May 16, 2016, LHF had got a quotation of $1m from another US hospital it had reached out to for the twins’ treatment.
While the treatment lasted, the Ayenis also received free accommodation at the FedExFamilyHouse, adjacent to the hospital, which is a home away from home for out-of-town families with children receiving treatment at the hospital
As the world basks in the successful separation of the twins, the LHF says it is full of gratitude to God, and thanks to all who linked hands with it to give the two girls the chance to enjoy healthy and wholesome individual lives.
The group gives special thanks to President & CEO of the hospital, Ms Meri Amour, staff members, especially the surgical team that performed the operation, led by Dr. Max Langham, for their dedication to the health and wellbeing of the twins and the welfare of the entire family.
Before embarking on the trip to help Miracle and Testimony, LHF, the founder said, the group used Favour and Faithful Sobowale-Davies’ case, who were born conjoined in Lagos State in 2003, as a case study.
The foundation held meetings to learn from the experience of the then Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Leke Pitan, and Dr. Ade Tinubu (a surgeon at LASUTH), who facilitated the pro-bono surgery performed on the Sobowale-Davies at Johns Hopkins Medical Centre, MD, US.
The LHF further reached out to The Sobowale-Davies family and organised what it termed, “A Meeting of Hope between The Sobowale-Davies and The Ayenis.” Pastor and Mrs. Sobowale-Davies, visited the Ayenis at LASUTH with their formerly conjoined twin daughters, Favour and Faithful, on April 30, 2016.
As the NGO continued efforts towards securing a successful treatment for the conjoined twins, they got a favourable response from the Kogi State government, which donated N3m to the Ayeni family for their upkeep during their stay in the US.
In a demonstration of exemplary Corporate Social Responsibility, Arik Air Nigeria, got into the picture, providing five free Lagos-New York return tickets to the Ayeni twins, their parents and older sisters.”
Farinre explained further that, “Everyday Nigerians, home and abroad responded positively to our call for donations for the Ayeni family’s New York- Memphis return tickets. They also supported the welfare and successful separation of the Ayeni twins by covering the cost of the family’s international passports, supporting their logistics in Lagos, New York, and Memphis, making donations of baby formula, bottled water, diapers, wipes, etc., as well as joining LHFs Pray for Miracle and Testimony Group.
“Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, PEP Stores Nigeria, Alma Stores Nigeria and LPacemaker Pharmaceuticals obliged LHFs requests for product donations to the Ayeni twins.”
“In seeking for suitable social support for the Ayenis while in Memphis, LHF was introduced to Pastor Oluyinka Adeyemo, of The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), House on the Rock Parish, Memphis. The Ayenis are members of RCCG. Pastor Adeyemo has been working with LHF to provide spiritual and psychological support to the Ayenis during the twins’ treatment.
Pastor Adeyemo, the ministers and members of RCCG, House on the Rock, continue to give the Ayenis a constant feel of home while in the US,” she added.
The founder attributed the successful separation of the Ayeni twins to what she referred to as the “Spirit of One Nigeria,” with government, corporations, organisations and individuals coming together in service to humanity, and country.
While expressing LHF’s hope that the Ayenis story encourages Nigerians to always be their brothers keepers, and provoke Nigeria to take decisive actions towards world-class healthcare for all Nigerian children regardless of class, tribe or status, she urged Nigerians and the world to keep the Ayeni twins in their thoughts and prayers in order for them to attain full recovery.
According to Le Bonheur Childrens, conjoined twins occur one in 200, 000 live births, with 6 percent of those being ischiopagus, like Miracle and Testimony Ayeni.
The Langham-led surgical team stated that their particular joining exists in maybe five million births.