For 29 years, unique conjoined twins Abigail and Brittany Hensel have been living full lives despite all their physical limitations, the lack of a positive prognosis for a healthy life, and the amazed looks of other people. With their examples, the girls prove that it is possible to overcome any difficulties and make your dreams come true if you really want it.
We dove into the lives of these girls’ thanks to the documentary Joined for Life and their own show Abby & Brittany and we are ready to tell you about these cheerful twins.
The parents of the sisters expected one child.
Abigail and Brittany were born on March 7, 1990, in Minnesota. The birth of the twins was a real surprise for both the doctors and their parents who expected just one girl — ultrasound scans didn’t show the twins or any deviations in the baby’s development.
During her labor, the mother of the girls realized that something was going wrong: the doctors were in a panic and didn’t show her the baby for a long time. When the parents finally saw the twins, they immediately fell in love with them and all the doctors’ fears disappeared.
The lives of the sisters was hanging by a threat from their very first minutes of life. According to statistics, out of 30 million conjoined twins, only one body survives. The internal organs of the others fails during the first 24 hours after birth. And, despite the negative prognosis from the doctors, the twins overcame this and developed like an ordinary child year after year.
They didn’t even discuss the separation of the girls: this solution would either kill one of the girls or would impair the lives of both of them. And the twins themselves were against the surgery: they were used to living together, having someone else near them, someone who can understand and support the other.
Their parents did everything in their power to make the sisters feel like ordinary children, despite the lack of information about their case. The family found a regular school for the girls where they learned not to pay attention to the looks of other people and they found friends.
The family never allowed anyone to do any experiments on the twins, even if it could’ve helped to predict their future development and health condition.
How the body of the girls works
2 heads, 2 legs and arms, 2 backbones, 3 lungs, 2 hearts, 1 liver, 2 stomachs, 3 kidneys, a shared circulatory system, and shared genitals — the anatomy of the girls is unique and doctors still don’t quite understand how their body can work this well.
Each twin can only control her side of the body and they can’t sense the touch of the other sister. For example, Abby doesn’t feel it when someone shakes Brittany’s hand and vice versa. Back when they were children, the girls learned to synchronize their movements and coordinate their actions. It all worked so perfectly that they easily learned to play the piano, swim, ride a bike, and play sports.
Scientists believe that the girls have shared neural connections that no other human body has. This is why the girls can read each other’s minds, write e-mails without consulting the other sister, and even finish each other’s sentences. Also, on the intuitive level, the needs of the body synchronize: when Abby wants to drink, Brittany is thirsty, and when one of them wants to fix her hair or makeup, the other one helps her.