Their elated father said, "My heart and soul is shouting out loud, 'Come on! Go on girls! Surprise me more!'"
About four years ago, when Ibrahima Ndiaye and his wife were expecting a baby, they had no reason to believe it would be anything but a normal pregnancy. They had around four separate scans before the birth and none of them showed signs of his wife carrying twins, leaving the father in a "massive shock" when she finally gave birth to conjoined twins, Marieme and Ndeye in 2016.
With their birth came questions about their survival, as doctors expected them to die just days after they were born. However, Ibrahima did not give up on his girls and he took them from Dakar, Senegal to the UK to give Marieme and Ndeye a fighting chance.
Fast forward a few years from their birth and today, one will see that Marieme and Ndeye are like any other four-year-old girls, settling into their school in Cardiff and making new friends.
"When you look in the rearview mirror, it was an unachievable dream," the father said, according to BBC. "From now, everything ahead will be a bonus to me. My heart and soul is shouting out loud, 'Come on! Go on girls! Surprise me more!'"
Marieme and Ndeye have two separate hearts and spines, but what they do share is a liver, bladder, and digestive system. As they grow up, they will also get to share together the little milestones that once seemed impossible for them, like learning to stand, which was a "Herculean achievement" for the girls, according to Ibrahima.
The school's head teacher, Helen Borley revealed that Marieme and Ndeye have been doing well since starting school in September and added, "Children either say, 'I'm Marieme's friend' or 'I'm Ndeye's friend'—they don't say, 'I'm the twins' friend'. Children very much identify as being one person's friend or another—because the girls are very different characters. They are laughing a lot—which is always a good sign, isn't it? Any child that is laughing a lot is a happy child."
Apart from being conjoined, Marieme and Ndeye are just like any other pair of twins with their own separate personalities. "Ndeye is the lively one, she likes attention, and Marieme is a quieter personality—calm and thoughtful. Ndeye is fire and Marieme is ice," the twins' father said, according to The Guardian.
Over the years, Ibrahima has had to make a number of sacrifices, including moving to another country to give his girls the right care. He previously said, "I put all my energy into caring for the girls and making them happy. I know there will be a time when they have to go. But at this point they are fighting – and they are also providing me with a reason for living. They are my inspiration, I dedicate everything to them. I will never let them walk alone. I need to know I gave them everything I could. I’m a lucky man to be part of this journey. We are still on the journey. I don’t know how it will end."
In 2019, doctors considered separation surgery for the girls, but eventually saw that their circulatory systems were more closely linked than they believed. Although this means Marieme and Ndeye cannot survive without each other and may not have separate lives, the girls are still enjoying their little achievements together, like standing, playing, and interacting with kids of their age. And seeing this keeps Ibrahima going, even though the girls' future is so unpredictable.
The father told BBC. "They are my warriors. They have proved they will never surrender without fighting. It is not yet over."
You can support the twins by heading over to their fundraising page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ibrahima-ndiaye