Abby and Brittany Hensel are most certainly among the most famous, and most lucky conjoined twins to have ever existed in this world.
What makes them among the most famous? Well, instead of only having a Wikipedia page, they also have managed to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and they have had numerous documentaries done on their lives…and that’s not to mention the reality television show they had for a time as well. Which is interesting since they apparently hate when people gawk at them (which each of those productions is encouraging people to do).
What makes them among the most lucky? It turns out that one in every 200, 000 or so result in conjoined twins. But of those 200,000…well let’s just say the chances for survival past two years is ridiculously low. Now 27 years old, they are among an elite group of people who have managed to beat the odds of their birth, to become fully developed citizens of the world. And who knows, maybe they’ll end up becoming the longest living of that group as well (though they’ve got more than 30 years to go to beat that record).
Either way these lovely ladies are among the most interesting when it comes to conjoined twins…even just when it comes to people.
15. How Does Their Body Function?
So Abby and Brittany obviously have two heads. But how exactly does the rest of their body function? They have separate sets of vital organs. Or at least they have some separate vital organs. They each have their own hearts, lungs, spines, and stomachs. But they share one liver, which could make partying an issue, depending on how much they might drink. They share three kidneys, as well as a single set of intestines, colon, bladder, and reproductive organs. Which must make going to the bathroom interesting, especially if they’re not eating or drinking at the same time (as their cravings, and desires are of course individual). And sex, while it must already be an awkward thought, is made even more complicated should they choose to have children. Though I’m unsure if they could physically have children, given their structure.
14. Not So Easy To Start Walking
The very interesting thing about working out just how to move with two people essentially fused together as one, is that each girl controls her own half of their shared body. Imagine how difficult that must have been to coordinate as children. Learning how to walk must have been one of the biggest difficulties they face in their youth. Never mind learning how to run, or dance, or play sports. Attempting to balance each of their sides, while the other takes a step must have required incredible concentration, and determination. Not to mention a whole hell of a lot of team work. Surely Britt and Abby must get tired of each other on occasion. So just imagine how frustrating it would be to try and coordinate movements with each other…without losing patience.
13. They Once Had A Third Arm
You wouldn’t think it to look at them, but Abby and Brittany once had a third arm…of sorts. Between the necks of the two sisters, there was essentially a growth that would have been part of Brittany’s right arm, as well as part of Abby’s left arm. This growth was attached to a shoulder blade that also sat between the two necks of the sisters. For structural stability, the shoulder blade was left in tact. But given that the third arm was nothing more than a growth that served no functionality, the doctors removed it. While it may not have necessarily caused any health issues, it likely saved a great deal of hassle for the two girls. Already having to lean further to one side or another when wearing helmets on bikes, surely you could imagine how having a third arm between their necks would affect their abilities.
12. Britt’s Just A Bit Shorter
As it happens, Abby’s head tilts about five degrees to the right, while Brittany’s head tilts 15 degrees to the left. It’s difficult to notice the slight slant in Abby’s posture, due to the significant difference in Brittany’s. This lateral tilt makes her appear much shorter than her sister (and surely her neck must get much more sore). It also doesn’t help that Britt is a full two inches shorter than her sister. So when they walk, they must stand on their tip toes in order to properly coordinate their steps. I wonder how long it took the girls to realize this when trying to find balance when learning to walk. Because of Britt’s compensation, her calf muscles are much larger than Abby’s. Though Abby is surely in less pain than Brittany, day in and day out.
11. They Were On Oprah At Only Age Six
The above is a very sweet photo, to be sure, but I do wonder if life was always so seemingly beautiful for these two. At only age six they were already being featured on LIFE, and on the Oprah Winfrey Show. They were also on the Discovery Channel around the same time. And since then, numerous documentaries have been done on the twins. And they even landed their own reality television show, which I have to say must have been far more interesting than things like Honey Boo Boo, or Jersey Shore. At least there is some very interesting substance to these twins. Though I fear a lot of the attention they have got is reminiscent to the freak shows of old, when circus owners would essentially enslave people like Abby and Brittany. But they’ve managed to steer clear, and stay clean.
10. Their Parents Quickly Refused Separating Them
When Abby and Brittany were born, their parents were met with a choice. They were asked about separating the two girls, so that they might have some normalcy as parents. There was a pretty significant catch though. Given their physical makeup, it was certain that one of the girls would surely die. And there was absolutely no guarantee that the other would manage to live through the procedure either. Naturally, and obviously, the parents of the two girls made it very clear that they were not going to be killing either of their daughters. And while I’m sure they must have dealt with, and still deal with plenty of ignorant, and inquisitive people, it’s clear they have made the right choice, because Abby and Brittany have certainly lived to be among the rarest of conjoined twins in the world.
9. They Both Had To Take The Driving Test
It’s probably illegal for two people to drive one car, in most circumstances. How many people have held on to the wheel while the person “driving” takes off a coat, or grabs a bite of food? Well this is slightly different. Both girls could work on the steering if they wanted, but otherwise, one deals with all the controls on one side, and the other deals with the controls on the other side. This means that Brittany gets the luxury of resting her arm on the window side, should she wish. While Abby has to worry about being in gear, sorting the air conditioning, the music, and the wipers…she probably also does both gas and brake. No matter who is in control of what though, they both still had to take the driving test in order for them to collectively get behind the wheel.
8. Dealing With Illness
It seems that when it comes to getting the short end of the stick, Brittany doesn’t just have to deal with actually being shorter than her sister. When it comes to illness, strangely, these girls don’t necessarily share. For example, Brittany has suffered from pneumonia twice now. While Abby has never once had it. Brittany is also more susceptible to colds as well, it seems. Abby certainly lucked out in terms of immune system and constitution. Perhaps it’s the need to overcompensate so much that weakens Brittany’s system and leaves her more open to illness. Of course, it could also just be genetics. After all, they are two different people. They just happen to share an awful lot in common…far more than most people as it happens.
7. They’re Both Teachers
That’s right both of these lovely ladies became teachers. You might easily think that of course they both pursued the same thing. They’re stuck together, so they have to. To be fair to them though, they had wanted to pursue different majors, but thanks to the incredible course load, and their inability to go to separate classes, they settled on the same future. But that’s not to say that it hasn’t been beneficial for them. To date, they both still make on single salary as a teacher. Which has to suck, since they’re two people doing the job. Which must make things much easier. One of them can give the lesson, while the other keeps an eye on the kids, and tells them to shut up when they’re acting up. They’re kind of a perfect teaching machine in that sense. One could mark, while the other answers questions for the students.
6. Difficulty Typing
I cannot fathom the difficulty of living with only being able to control one half of one’s body. But that’s just what Brittany and Abby have been faced with since day one. They share a whole body, but will never know what it feels like to have one. It’s strange, and sad to think about in that way. However, these two have overcome some incredible odds, and have taken up some incredible challenges. For example, these girls can now fully type on a computer, with minimal error. Which is saying a lot, as I clear up errors all the time when I type (and the editing team does for me as well). But imagine typing with only one hand, and then coordinating that with someone else’s one hand, as you sit next to each other. And somehow make words, and sentences flow properly. That’s what these girls have done.
5. Distinct Personalities
It should be no surprise at all that these two very distinct ladies have also two very distinct personalities. They may share one body, but they have two individual brains, and it clearly shows. Aside from having different tastes in food, clothing, and music, they also have differing abilities and interests. With food, they like to have separate meals when they can, but will obviously share a meal when it is most convenient. Some of their clothes have altered necklines in order to show individuality. And when it comes to personality, and interests, Abby seems to have a knack for mathematics. Brittany, on the other hand, loves to write. In spite of their differing personalities though, when they type up emails, they often hardly have to discuss what to say, and intuitively respond in the singular. And if they do differ, they then refer to each other in the third person, to make clear each other’s opinion.
4. They Love Sports!
Imagine how difficult it might have been to make that team you wanted to be on in school. Or how hard you work to be able to get a three pointer in basketball, or a lay up. Now multiply that difficult by many times, and you’ll just begin to understand how it must have been for Brittany and Abby to learn how to work together in sports. Not only part of a team, they must be a team of their own as well. That being said though, they absolutely love sports. They love to swim. They participate in rowing (which was featured on their reality show). They go bowling. And they even play volleyball. Those last two must have been logistical nightmares when they first began. Knowing when to bend when releasing the ball down the lane. Or knowing when to volley or bump when the ball was coming over the net. Even cycling must have been an interesting lesson in patience for them.
3. They Want Marriage And Kids
One of the dreams they’ve both had since all the way back when they were on the Oprah Winfrey Show, is to be mothers. Now surely everyone is wondering just how that might occur. Physically, I’m not sure if they’re able to carry a baby to full term. It seems more than likely that they’d be able to conceive, but then that’s a whole bunch of new problems as well. I imagine a c-section would be the way to go, if they chose not to adopt. But in terms of getting pregnant…assuming that both of these very individual girls had their own boyfriends…the sex would affect both of them. They share one set of female sexual organs. Back in the day, when and if conjoined twins had children, the religious crazies would be out there talking about how immoral it was. I would imagine it would simply be awkward. But then again, they’ve been through literally everything together…except pneumonia.
2. They Scored Their Own Show
There may have already been mentioned made of this, but Abby and Brittany managed to land their own reality television show. What was it called? Abby & Brittany. It was a very original title to be sure. Now of course they seemed to be having fun all over their new show. And no doubt the money they made from the show was enough to make them smile through the whole process. But considering that they hate being gawked at, and hate being photographed…it seems a little much that they would then choose to have their own T.V. show. Of course that could just be in order to get their story out there, as a way to make them seem even more normal. But then I think that, if they really wanted to blend in, and be normal…they wouldn’t go out of their way to be all over national television.
1. They Love Playing Music
If anyone thought that it might be an incredible pain in the ass to learn how to play sports, or drive a vehicle when you can only control one half of the body you are a part of, think again. While those things may be difficult, there is no way that they are more difficult than playing musical instruments. And as it happens, both Brittany and Abby love playing music. How they managed to learn just boggles my mind (and makes me feel like an incredibly inferior musician), but they love it. Imagine what it would be like to try and balance the guitar on their lap, then be able to play. Assuming they were right handed…(which I don’t think even makes sense to say in this case) then Brittany would be on the neck, and Abby would be finding the rhythm. Figuring out the timing for something like that seems like far too much work. But it’s not like they ever had it easy right from the start.