Conjoined twins home for Christmas after separation surgery

Conjoined twins Anabelle and Isabelle Bateson from Toomebridge, who have been through 20 operations between them in 2 months, have made it home for Christmas.

The girls, who are 8 months old, began the separation surgery in September at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.

Mum Hannah said their daughters have shown so much bravery: "There were times they had just come back from surgery and they were just being their happy wee selves and you were thinking, how are you so brave?"

UTV first met the Bateson twins in April this year.  They were just 6 weeks old at the time and were joined from chest to pelvis, sharing a liver, bladder, bowel and leg.

Surgeons began to operate on the girls on the day of the Queen's funeral.  Their parents say it was an incredibly tough time.

Dan Bateson said: "One minute you were in floods of tears, you're happy the next and you just go with that.  It was a rollercoaster."

Hannah said: "I knew the girls were going to be in pain, how could they not, but it was the level of pain.  

"I could nearly cry saying it but one of the hardest things was when the girls were incubated and they had the tubes down their throat. They were crying but it was silent. That was one of the hardest things for me."

The couple say what kept them going was the thought of bringing the girls home for Christmas. But they also say support from the community has meant so much.

Hannah said: "The picture I had in my head was all these candles burning all over the country.  We're a mixed marriage and the amount of people who said I don't normally pray, but I'm praying for the girls.

"Maybe it's a testimony of what a community is or what God can do but what a community can do.

While Dan said they never felt alone: "You felt like you'd everyone from home coming with you."

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