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| April 23, 2018

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Together for Life, Literally – The Incredible Life of Conjoined Twins

Together for Life, Literally – The Incredible Life of Conjoined Twins
Divya Singh

Abigail and Brittany Hensel, the conjoined twins from Minnesota have struggled long enough throughout their life but now the tides have turned in their favor. When the twins were born in the year 1990, the doctors told their parents that the chances of their survival are slim but proving them wrong, the gorgeous twins have now completed 23 years of their lives. And now they are all set to feature in a show called ‘Abby and Brittany’, which will depict the lives of the twins.
Abby and Brittany’s parents have always considered them to be special children since they are one of the rarest set of dicephalus twins to survive infancy. As per the trend, one in every 40,000 twins is born connected to each other and only about one percent of such twins survive beyond a year. Parents to the Hensel twins, Patty who is a registered nurse and Mike, who is a carpenter and landscaper, were told by the doctors that their daughters will not live for long but the twins have proved them completely wrong.
The conjoined twins are a result of a fertilized egg that could not get separated into two babies inside the uterus of their mother when she was pregnant. The twins were originally born with three arms. One arm was surgically removed at the time of their birth. They have two spines joined at the pelvic area, two separate hearts, four lungs, two food pipes, one ribcage, three kidneys, one liver, a partially shared nervous system and a shared circulatory system. Below the abdomen, all the organs are shared which includes a reproductive system, intestines and the bladder.
The right side twin, Abigail can’t feel the left side of the body and vice versa, Brittany, the left twin can’t feel anything on the right side of their body and yet they manage to work in coordinated manner while doing various chores like typing emails, playing volleyball, softball, swimming, cycling, playing piano, etc. They attended a private church school and have led a normal, private life. Although at the age of six, the twins appeared in Oprah Winfrey show and on the cover page of a popular magazine but still they managed to stay like normal people do until they turned 16. On their 16th birthday, a documentary for TLC was shot which was entirely based upon their life.
The 16th birthday was also special since they got their driving license on that very day. The girls can drive conveniently with each of them controlling the steering wheel with one arm but their mother wonders who would get fined if they ever get caught for over-speeding or something like that. The most commendable thing their parents have done for them is to constantly encourage them to develop their own individuality. It is also overwhelming to see them work together as a single body despite of the fact that they have different likings and different urge to sleep or eat.
Their clothes are specially made with two necklines. They wear leggings with different color for each leg and with different shoe in each foot in order to reflect their individuality. When Patty and Mike were asked that have they ever thought of getting them separated, their answer was a straight no. They said that they just could not bear the fact that one of their daughters might die or get physically challenged for the rest of her life. The proud parents have always encouraged them to live with dignity and courage. They make them buy two separate cinema tickets, separate meals and two separate birthday cakes and presents. They also make sure to scold the one who has committed the mistake, not both of them.
The sisters say that they rarely fight. They eat together from two different plates. One holds the fork and the other one holds the knife to cut the food and turn by turn they feed each other. They even help each other in scratching the areas the other can’t reach. Brittany has suffered from pneumonia twice and each time Abigail who is the stubborn one has helped her sister recover with patience and affection. But it was not that easy, at least not for the first time when Brittany got pneumonia. Abigail used to get bored of being in the bed all the time and once she even said that they need separation. Poor Brittany started crying and then Abigail promised her that they would never get separated.
People wonder what would happen in a situation, if one of the girls fall in love with someone and the other one can’t stand the sight of him. Three years ago, there were rumors that Brittany has got engaged but they were completely untrue but people started to think about their future since they share one reproductive system. Will the girls ever get married? Will they ever have children? Well, their father, Mike believes that someday his daughters will get married.

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