Last year, Dr. Abdullah al-Rabeeah, a pediatric surgeon and adviser to the Saudi Royal Court, completed a surgery to separate conjoined Palestinian twins in the city of Riyadh. That wasn't the surgeon's first or last time to do so. In fact, he's been heading a program specialized in the separation of conjoined twins, born to less fortunate families from around the world, for 30 years.
Last month, he successfully completed his 48th surgery on conjoined twins, Ahmed and Mohammed, from Libya. A team of 35 surgeons operated on the twins - in 11 stages - over 14 hours. The Libyan twins were joined at the lower abdomen and pelvis; each was born with one lower limb, sharing a third deformed lower limb, according to The National. The twins also shared a large intestine, pelvic bones, and anus.
The successful operation took place at the King Abdullah Specialist Children's Hospital in Riyadh.
The surgeon's program is mostly funded by royal and Islamic charities; each operation must be approved by Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
"We pay for the travel and expenses," al-Rabeeah told ABC News, explaining that his patients have spanned 21 countries as of yet.
According to ABC News, the surgeon has separated so many children that even his twin daughters doubt that he might've operated on them.
"They were seeing in the news that I was separating twins. So they asked their mother, 'Mom, when did dad separate us?'" he said.
Conjoined twins are very rare and many connected twins are delivered stillborn. However, surgical and technological advancements have improved survival rates.
As for Al-Rabeeah, his first operation on conjoined twins dates back to the early 1990s. Even during his time as the country's health minister and director of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, the surgeon still operated on conjoined twins.
"Even when I was minister of health, I continued to do my surgeries because I believe even if I do it on the weekends, it is something (that) can help people. Humanity is part of medicine," he told ABC News.
His most recent case, unlike the one that took place last year, saw the survival of both twins Ahmad and Mohammed. They are currently in recovery.
As for the case last year, upon arrival to the operation room, the surgeon discovered that the survival of one (Haneen) was dependent on the other. Farah was unfortunately pronounced dead during the surgery.