These extraordinary conjoined twins are making major headway in their lives as they enter their late twenties. They have learned to tolerate one another—working together as two individuals, but as one body. They share the same world spending all their days together—living a unique life as conjoined twins.
Abigail and Brittany Hensel are conjoined twins with a medical condition called dicephalic parapagus. They are fused together at the torso and share one body. At birth, doctors told their parents they wouldn’t live for more than a few hours—miraculously they are now full-grown adults today.
For their entire lives—from the time they were infants, through childhood, through the difficult teen years, and through to today—the twins have had to struggle to overcome many challenges. Now at the age of 27, Abby and Brittany are sharing the next chapter of their lives. They plan on teaching at the Mounds View Elementary School.
One in a trillion: The Hensels are believed to be one of only a very few set of dicephalus twins in history who have survived infancy.
The young ladies are shown graduating from Bethel University in Minnesota in the first episode of their reality show.
The girls first drew the attention of mainstream media in 1996 when they appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and were featured on the cover of Life Magazine. Afterwards, they lived a quiet life with their family in Minnesota. They kept out of the media spotlight, busying themselves with family, relationships, and their own personal affairs. They then agreed to appear in a documentary for TLC when they turned 16.
The broadcaster gave them their own show, called “Abby and Brittany,” which premiered on Aug. 28, 2012.
On their 16th birthday, Abigail and Brittany passed their driving test, with a mind-boggling feat of teamwork.
Their mother, Patty, conceded that driving might have been a problem for the girls, “I don’t know what would happen if they got pulled over for speeding. Would they each get a ticket or just Abby because it’s her foot on the accelerator?” That is a fair question.
With two spines, two hearts, two oesophagi, two stomachs, three kidneys, two gallbladders, four lungs, one liver, one ribcage, a shared circulatory system, and partially shared nervous systems, these twins are quite simply extraordinary.
However, from the waist down, all organs, including the intestine, bladder, and reproductive organs, are shared. Doctors were astonished at their ability to coordinate with one another in order to play the piano as one, where Abigail would play the right hand treble keys, and Brittany the left hand bass keys. The twins also love taking part in sports such as bowling, volleyball, cycling, softball, and swimming.
Just one set of twins in every 40,000 is born conjoined in some way, yet only 1 percent of those survive beyond the first year. Do the math … these girls are something truly extraordinary!
The Hensel girls are the rarest form of conjoined twins, the result of a single fertilized egg that failed to separate properly in the womb. In infancy, they underwent surgery to remove a third undeveloped arm from their chest. They underwent more surgery at age 12 to correct scoliosis (curvature of the spine), and again to increase expansion of their chest cavity in order to prevent future breathing difficulties.
The twins display an astonishing sense of coordination, each using one arm to perform tasks, including playing the piano and sports.
Abigail and Britney are all set to teach at primary school, with a desire to teach Mathematics. Although they have two teaching licenses, there is one issue as far as their compensation is considered.
“Obviously right away we understand that we are going to get one salary because we’re doing the job of one person,” said Abby, in a BBC report.
“As maybe experience comes in we’d like to negotiate a little bit, considering we have two degrees and because we are able to give two different perspectives or teach in two different ways. One can be teaching and one can be monitoring and answering questions,” said Brittany. “So in that sense we can do more than one person,” she added.
“They are two different girls, but yet they are able to work together to do the basic functions that I do every day that I take for granted,” says Hohncke, a friend of the sisters.
What is perhaps most touching about Abigail and Brittany is their ability to get along, despite their different personalities.
The twins seldom argue, despite that Abigail always wants to be the one in charge and, according to their mother, wants “to rule the whole house.” Sometimes, one twin will scratch an itch the other cannot reach. On another occasion, when Brittany was ill with pneumonia and couldn’t keep her medicine down, Abigail volunteered to take it in the hope of making her twin better.
Only once have the twins talked about separation—in childhood—when Abigail became bored and restless after Brittany fell ill with pneumonia and was confined to bed.
Brittany never wants to be separated from her twin sister, and cried terribly when the subject was brought up. Abigail reassured her that everything was fine and that they’d never be parted.
Despite their being positive and devoted to each other’s happiness, there will certainly be challenges for the girls to face in life. We able-bodied people can learn a lesson from these awesome siblings, the way they are able to share and work together for a common purpose, harmoniously tolerating one another. It is something truly unique.