Abigail and Brittany Hensel: My favorite conjoined twins.

Posted on 10 Apr 2008


The Hensel Twins turned 18 this year. If you know who owns the photos below, let me know and I’ll add the proper photo credit. Video here.

https://i1.wp.com/i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2006/12/henseltwins3112_228x589.jpgA set of twins who share the same body have celebrated their 18th birthday in the United States. Abigail and Brittany Hensel from Minnesota …  have two hearts, and two spinal chords, but share the same torso have lived their lives side by side.

The teens who enjoy swimming, playing the piano and recently got their drivers’ licenses said they had no intention of being separated.

The girls have beaten the odds and doctors’ expectations to reach their milestone. It is believed there are only four sets of twins who share the same torso and have survived into adulthood. And they are on track to graduate from university, and hope to have a family of their own one day.

“We want to be mums, but haven’t thought how it would work,” Abigail said. The girls passed their driving exams with two separate licenses and two separate tests. Abigail worked the pedals, and Brittany used the indicators and they both held the steering wheel.

Their parents, nurse Patty, and carpenter Mike 48, decided not to have the twins separated at birth despite the risks. “From the first time we saw them we thought they were beautiful,” she told the Sunday Mirror. –telegraph

Like many twins they have very different personalities and tastes – even more so now they are teenagers. Abigail, the feisty, stubborn one, likes orange juice for breakfast while Brittany, the joker of the family, will touch only milk.

Abigail loves pink and all things girly but Brittany prefers purple, multi-coloured hair and wearing unusual hats, and now they have turned 16 they love to experiment with makeup and clothes and giggle about which boys they like.

But that is where the similarity with other teenage twins end. For Abigail and Brittany Hensel are conjoined, sharing one body fused at the torso. Each controls just one side of the body, and yet remarkably this has not prevented them leading a full, active and happy life.

Displaying an astonishing co- ordination which has stunned doctors, they play the piano -with Abigail taking the right-hand parts and Brittany the left – and enjoy sports such as bowling, volleyball, cycling, softball and swimming.

And on their 16th birthday they passed their driving test; a mind-boggling feat of teamwork with each twin using one arm to control the steering wheel. Brittany explains: ‘Abby does the pedals and the gear shifter. I take over the blinkers and the lights. But she likes driving faster than me.’ – dailymail

Two headed conjoined twins Abigail Loraine Hensel and Britanny Lee Hensel had a short documentary about their lives on The Learning Channel. It is not easy to be born sharing a single body with your other twin and they are incredible that they had tried their best in leading a normal life. Here are some photos of the Hensel twins which peers into some of the moments in their lives.

Photo source here. Photographer unknown.

But the girls are more than curiosities. Their smiling faces and apparent good health seem a rebuke to the current medical trend of trying to separate, via surgery, ever more complexly conjoined twins–a trend that often means sacrificing one child so the other can live “normally.” And their tale of lives unpunctuated by solitude has much to teach all of us about the real meaning of individuality and the limitless power of human cooperation.

Conjoined twins are a rare event in the world’s delivery rooms. They occur about once in every 50,000 births, but 40% are stillborn, and, curiously, 70% are female. Conjoined twins are always identical: the product of a single egg that for some unknown reason failed to divide fully into separate twins during the first three weeks of gestation. In the U.S. there are perhaps 40 live cases each year; ordinary identical twins are 400 times as common. – time

hensel twins 5 life photo at the pool

I ran into them recently in Grand Marais, MN. It was the most amazing. They bounced out of their van with several other kids, laughing, bouncing, talking, and just having a ball. They were obviously accepted as [one] of the group. They must have outstanding parents. I feel honored to have witnessed their lives.

Posted by: Dick Moore on May 17, 2004

Posted in: Biology, Strange