Born in 2017 in Peshawar, Pakistan, Safa and Marwa’s story began with an exceptionally rare medical condition – they were craniopagus twins, conjoined at the head. The twins’ family agreed that if there was a chance to separate them safely, it should be pursued. With so much at stake, Owase Jeelani, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London stepped forward to help. The visas to the UK had been secured, but funding for the complex surgery was still uncertain. The NHS in the UK wouldn’t cover such a procedure, and Dr. Jeelani had raised only a fraction of the required funds.
The clock was ticking, and the twins were already 19 months old – beyond the ideal age for such a complex operation. Further delays could make the separation riskier and recovery more challenging.
Inspired by the story and desperate to help, Reach Food Group decided to sponsor the surgery that held the promise of transforming Safa and Marwa’s lives. Great Ormond Street Hospital was renowned worldwide for this type of surgery, and it was here that the twins would have their best chance at being separated. As well as paying for the surgery, we sponsored the families travel, covering accommodation and living expenses in the UK.
On Monday, October 15, 2018, a team of nearly 20 medical professionals gathered in to start what would be a long journey to separate the girls. The first operation to separate the twins lasted 15 hours. A month after the first surgery, a second operation aimed to divide the shared veins. In February 2019, four months after the first surgery, the final connection was cut, and Safa and Marwa finally became two separate individuals.
After their three major operations (amounting to 50 hours in theatre), we were able to fund the families’ travel back home to Pakistan.
As a company, we are filled with immense joy knowing that our donation and support was able to facilitate this life-changing and groundbreaking surgery for Safa and Marwa. Now, these girls can begin their lives as individuals in Pakistan.
One of our proudest commitments is our support for Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, a world-renowned institution known for its life-changing medical work. It is rewarding to see our efforts come full circle as we supply nourishing meals to the hospital through our food donation partnership with The Felix Project.