Conjoined twins have fascinated the human species since the very first. I dare say there is not a person living who wouldn’t at least take a second glance, if passing by a set of conjoined twins. They’ve been used as money makers in freak shows, circus acts, and vaudeville numbers all through history. They’ve been labelled both demons and angels.
But you know what the surprising thing to most people is? They’re actually just people. People with lives like you and me. And they try to get by, just the same. They surely have difficulties we will never have to face. But we don’t make it easier by gawking.
All the same, that’s sort of why you’re reading this article in the first place. But there’s more to it than that. Yeah, you’ll see some cool shots of conjoined twins. And you will be fascinated by them, for sure. It’s not something that you likely see everyday. But you’ll learn a thing or two about the tortured, or sometimes surprisingly normal lives these people have.
15. Abby And Brittany
Abby and Brittany are perhaps the most famous conjoined twins of today. Especially having been given their own T.V. show for a time. Though their shared body is actually fairly average sized, somehow they each have separate vital organs. Which is astonishing. It’s difficult to get around though, as each one controls their own side of the body. Walking must have been a pain to learn. But hey, they still manage to get out to the beach in the summer, so that’s just f*cking awesome. Hell, they can not only walk, but they can run, swim, and ride a bicycle! They even both have their driver’s licences. The test for which, they had to take twice. One controls everything on the left, the other everything on the right. They even play sports, and music. And they are both teachers who earn one salary together. Which hopefully changes since they can teach, and tell of students at the same time! That warrants a medal.
14. Anias And Jadan
Apparently 80% of the conjoined twins who are connected at the head die before they reach two years of age. Anias and Jadan were lucky then to go through the lengthy process of separation at 13 months old. It took over 16 hours to complete the surgery. The final surgery that is. There were several beforehand, in order to properly prepare the twins for that last, brain separating surgery. Only the 59th surgery of its kind since the early 50s, the doctors said that this was the most intense, and difficult surgery of its kind, that they had ever seen. It’s also pretty incredible that these two guys even made it to term. Most conjoined twins don’t survive birth to begin with. These guys are statistically two in millions. But once their mother heard their hearts beating at 17 weeks, there was no way she was going to give up on them.
13. Shivanath And Shivram
In this photograph Shivanath and Shivram are twelve years old. And as you can see, they are conjoined by the abdomen. Their legs are behind them in this photograph. They share only two legs. But they have been able to accomplish so much together. Obviously they do everything together, but they aid each other very competently. They can walk, run, climb stairs, and they do it all on their own. Their father is of course concerned about their livelihood, and the way in which the public treats them. But the reaction has been surprising. There are those who think they are demons, but they have friends, and live as normal a life as they possibly can. They’ve been approached about getting a separation surgery, but it is very likely that only one will survive. And only one of them will have legs. The father, somehow shocking people, refuses to allow that to happen.
12. Clarence And Carl
Clarence and Carl are a very lucky pair who have managed to be separated. They were born attached at the head. And in the Philippines, where they were born, the doctors told their mother that she would have to choose which of the boys was to live, and which to die. Not wanting to make Sophie’s Choice a part of her life, she went to New York to have the surgery done. The doctor they had there was not fully satisfied with the surgery but did say “If they hadn’t come to us when they did, they would have just withered away and died.” One of them is able to function fairly normally, but the other has pretty severe issues with walking and talking. Not ultimately a huge surprise, as they had to work through the brain in order to separate them. Over the course of nine months, four surgeries allowed these two to look at each for the first time.
11. Ronnie And Donnie
Ronnie and Donnie are the record holder for the oldest set of conjoined twins in the entire world. Now 65 years old, they are certainly slowing down. But considering what they’ve been through, and how they’re still going…people really can’t complain about pain, or frustration in quite the same way. Of course they were toured at a young age to make the family some money. They were turned away from schools and deemed as a waste of time. Which led to them being illiterate. They tried to join the military at one point, but that certainly did not work out for them either. In 2009, a lung infection threatened both men fairly severely. But they have recovered, and are now living with their younger brother. Local donation went into making their brother’s home accessible to them.
10. Violet And Daisy
These lovely ladies were conjoined by both the hips, and the buttocks. Violet And Daisy Hilton were quite the sensation in their time. While there were several conjoined twins acts out there at the same time, Violet and Daisy really made their money’s worth. At birth, there was talk of separation, but discovering that they shared vital blood flow, it was far too risky to truly consider. It should be said that they were forced into their performing life, and were not actually Hiltons. Their mother worked for a Hilton who effectively bought the girls from her. The girls were sold around, and eventually kept in captivity and beaten if they disobeyed their “owners”. Eventually they sued, and won $100,000 from their former captors. Marriage licenses were declined for them in 21 states over their time, until 1936. They died two to four days apart in 1969.
9. Ladan And Laleh
The story of Ladan and Laleh is a very sad one. Born joined at the head, these sisters had never seen each other face to face. And they destined to live a life together, forever. Well, they decided, in spite of this, to risk an operation to finally be able to live their own lives, and appreciate each other fully, and separately. The doctors spent 50 hours operating, working to separate the brains of the two women. Unfortunately, after all that time, the twins both died due to blood loss. This was the very first time an operation like this had been undergone in earnest. Considering that Ladan and Laleh lived to be 29 before deciding to do the surgery, they surpassed everyone’s expectations. The life expectancy of conjoined twins in general is pretty grim.
8. Margaret And Mary
Joined at the hip, Margaret and Mary were one of the first cases of conjoined twins to survive in America through natural birth. When they were 16 years old, they made the decision to leave home and become a vaudeville act. They danced, and played piano, and sang. Margaret had an engagement at one point. And they even went so far as to apply for a marriage license…but America at that time wasn’t ready to accept what could possibly happen in the bedroom after such a marriage. So no wedding happened. Margaret was also unfortunate enough to have cancer. Spreading from her bladder to her lungs, it did eventually find its way to Mary. Even before the spread, the sisters refused to separate. They died within minutes of each other. True to their wishes, they were kept together even in death, and were buried in a single casket.
7. Miracle And Testimony
You can tell a religious family apart when their children are named Miracle and Testimony. To be fair, they must surely think that the fact their daughters survived in the first place is good enough reason to name them Miracle and Testimony. Even more so that their separation (though it might have been a pain in the ass) went successfully. Attached at the buttocks, while there were fewer complications than being attached at the brain, there were still concerns. The parents weren’t able to afford the operation at all. But the Linking Hands Foundation, along with individual donors, raised the money for the children to be separated in America. You could imagine just how difficult, and brief their lives would have been if they hadn’t been able to get the surgery done.
6. Lori And George
Lori and George used to be known as Lori and Reba. However, in a clear showing that conjoined twins are actually just normal people, Reba discovered that she identified more with being a man. So he is now George. These twins have a very difficult way of going about life. They’ve managed to survive, so that’s pretty damn amazing. But the way in which they are conjoined makes life extra difficult to work. They lead their own lives, but when they do individual things, they obviously go together. They were in an institution for the “mentally retarded” for 24 years; their parents dumping them there at a very young age. Now 55 years old, George is a fairly accomplished country singer, and Lori is his manager. I wonder what their parents would say now.
Deepak Paswaan has had a very interesting, difficult, and lucky life. He was born with what is called a parasitic twin. This is a conjoined twin of sorts, but is ultimately not a living, sentient being. In Deepak’s case, this meant that out of the right side of his torso, he had an additional two arms, two legs, and a trunk of what could have been his brother. Of course plenty of children (and adults) found him to be horrifying to look at. But that didn’t stop him from making friends. And he continued through life like a normal young boy. Even before his surgery, he would play cricket like every young Indian boy. And once he turned seven, he went under the knife. And as you can see by the shot on the right, he is almost no worse for wear. It must be very different to do everyday tasks now.
Mia is a very interesting case of conjoined twins. Instead of having separate organs, and additional limbs (effectively having two people connected), Mia is almost entirely one body. She only has one heart, two lungs, two kidneys…everything that a typical human being is born with. But for one exception. Mia has two heads. Sometimes separation is a very plausible choice with conjoined twins, but in this case, it is impossible. And besides the surgical impossibility, there is no idea as to whether or not Mia will function as one person with two heads, or two people with one body. As soon as she was born, she was taken to intensive care to deal with breathing problems, so it remains to be seen just what the future holds for little Mia.
3. Millie And Christine
Millie and Christine were nicknamed “The Two-Headed Nightingale”. The twins were born to slaves in North Carolina. Seeing an opportunity for some extra money at the expense of his slaves, the slave master sold the twins at ten months old, in exchange for a cut of the freak show they would be a part of. They were sold several times, as it happens. In spite of all of this, the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 saw these two freed. A benefactor from Britain gathered the girls, and their mother from whom they’d been separated. They met Queen Victoria, learn to speak several languages, and apparently enjoyed a career as entertainers. Not just as freaks to gawk at. At the age of 61, the two women died of tuberculosis. 12 hours apart. I could not imagine laying there with my dead sister beside me for that long, waiting for death.
2. Giacomo And Giovanni
When the Tocci twins were born, their father had a psychotic break, and was placed in an asylum for a month before he recovered and came home. So these two had a great start to their lives. Once their father got over that, he immediately toured them around as part of a freak show. Touring so much that the twins never learned to walk, and never were given the time to build enough muscle in their legs to support their bodies. They shared sexual organs, and a digestive system, but most everything else was doubled. Except of course for their legs. Speaking of which, each twin could only control one leg, and could not feel the other. Walking would have been a struggle to learn, for sure…had they ever been given then chance. There are many reports of what happened to these two, once they retired. But after 1897, there is nothing that can be proven. They lived as recluses for the most part.
1. Chang And Eng
Chang and Eng have a pretty incredible story. To be fair, every story of conjoined twins is pretty incredible. Regardless, Chang and Eng are the reason why the term “Siamese Twins” exists. Born in Siam, these two men were basically sold into slavery in their teens, and toured around as freak shows. When they arrived in America, they were detested, and tested, and toured. These two were accused of inspiring pregnant women to have conjoined twins (because apparently pregnancy was based on imagination in 1829. But in spite of that, they managed to save money from the tours. They bought their own land, owned slaves, and met two sisters with whom they both had respective relationships, and marriages. Between the two of them, they had 21 children! They managed to live till 63, when they both died within hours of each other. Which must have been awful for the second brother to go.