The Power of Hope
“I am very grateful to God because I prayed for one baby, and He gave me two, ” Mohammad Eid declared as his baby girls were being cared for at the NICU at AUBMC. After giving birth to conjoined twins, his wife, Mireille, is ecstatic to be reunited with Rahaf, who has been recently discharged, and is waiting for little Riham who is being transferred to another facility after months of respiratory problems.
The unfolding story of the twins shows that even amid compounding crises, AUBMC continues to give a ray of hope to the people of Lebanon. In January of this year, the medical staff made history by performing the successful separation of the twins for the first time in Lebanon. The highly complex procedure required meticulous coordination among the surgical and medical specialties, anesthesia, operating room and nursing staff, and hospital administration.
Mireille Malass and Mohammad Eid had learned of their twins’ case early in the pregnancy. It was in the second month that Mireille heard her doctor in Tripoli whispering to herself during the ultrasound as she was looking for the membrane separating the twins. With a background in nursing, Mireille was able to understand a lot of what the doctor was murmuring. She remembers, “Although the doctor told me it was too early to tell, the possibility that I might be carrying conjoined twins was stuck in my head. It was very difficult for me, and I started crying. Then, I placed my hand on my belly and entrusted them to God. ”
Within the next few months, after consulting with a doctor for a second opinion, the couple learned that Riham had a tiny brain with a water sac attached to her head. They were told they could seek medical help abroad, where doctors would likely schedule an immediate delivery to protect the mother and the other baby, who would herself be incubated for some time. Mohammad refused any such action. He says of the decision, “Whatever God decided to give me, I would have accepted, even if they were lumps of meat. ”
The Eid couple was faced with the challenge of delivering their babies in Tripoli and having to secure $35,000 plus additional costs when the Ministry of Public Health stepped in. They remember, “What kept us up at night was learning how much an early delivery would have cost and not being able to secure the funds. Family and friends were very generous to lend us money, which we are ever so grateful for, but it did not add up to even a quarter of the amount.”
Mireille learned that Firass Abiad, caretaker minister of health, was suggesting AUBMC for the delivery and the surgical separation of Riham and Rahaf because “it is an internationally renowned medical center with the best medical staff and state-of-the art equipment and techniques. ” She remembers, “Minister Firass Abiad did not approve my delivering anywhere but at AUBMC. It was that very second when I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. I would have never imagined I would deliver at AUBMC.”
Postpartum and before the twins’ surgery, Mireille and Mohammad had to go home, leaving their girls in the NICU and visiting whenever they could. Mohammad would video call his wife from the NICU while Mireille’s cesarean incision was still healing. While it was enormously difficult to be separated from her newborn babies, Mireille could rest a bit easier knowing they were receiving the highest quality care.
In January, the twins’ surgery lasted for approximately 10 hours. The parents remained calm in spite of the situation; they had faith in God and trust in the medical center and the expertise of the doctors and were certain it would be successful. They did not mind that their girls were the center of media attention all over Lebanon and hoped their story would be an inspiration for others. They wanted their experience to plant hope in the hearts of expectant parents who might also have pregnancy and delivery complications.
After witnessing the difficult and challenging journey to recovery her babies went through, Mireille says, “I salute the doctors and nurses and would like to thank them one by one. Their goal was the success of the surgery, and they had clearly planned how to reach that goal. I would like to say I am thankful that my husband and I decided to stay in Lebanon and have this operation here because we still have the best medical staff at AUBMC, despite the multiple crises the country is going through. ”