Abby and Brittany Hensel are conjoined twins who have mystified the world for the past 30 years. Defying all the odds to purely survive to this day, they have been kind enough to share their journey with the world. Now, they have released an announcement that left the world stunned. What type of announcement did they share and how is this going to impact their lives moving forward?
Everyone is dying to find out just what they have to say!
Abby and Brittany Hensel Share Their Journey
The twins have been kind enough to share their journey with the rest of the world. Even though they faced their challenges, their lives continued to captivate audiences not just in the United States but all over the world!
They shared their triumphs and tribulations with the rest of the world, letting people have just a taste of what life is like as a pair of conjoined twins. Now, more than 20 years later, they shared the next chapter of their journey.
Abby and Brittany Hensel: Unique from Birth
Conjoined twins Abby and Brittany Hensel entered this world on March 7 of 1990. Born in Carver County, MN, doctors discovered that they were not only conjoined twins, but incredibly rare, even for conjoined twins. Abby and Brittany Hensel are dicephalic parapagus twins.
Facebook/Abigail and Brittany Hensel
This means that they each have one head and an entirely unified body. Even among conjoined twins, it is clear that Abby and Brittany are unique! Of course, this was followed by an incredibly unusual journey as well!
Abby and Brittany Defy the Odds
Conjoined twins have an incredibly low survival rate. Conjoined twins are only seen about once out of every 189,000 births. Even among that population, only about one in nine of all conjoined twins are dicephalic parapagus, such as Abby and Brittany Hensel.
Facebook/Abigail and Brittany Hensel
Clearly, the chances of Abby and Brittany being born this way was incredibly low. Not only were they born, but they survived as well! It is clear that many people believe the pair are nothing short of a miracle!
The Hensel Twins Have a Unique Anatomy
While Abby and Brittany Hensel are already unique on the outside, their inner workings are just as extraordinary. For instance, the upper body has a separate pair of organs for each twin despite their appearance. This means that their bodies have two stomachs, two hearts, and four lungs.
On the other hand, their lower bodies are completely conjoined. They have only one liver, one large intestine, and one reproductive system. Truly, their bodies are a modern marvel! Just how did they deal with this?
Born With A Third Arm
Despite Abby and Brittany being in the spotlight from a very young age not may people know that when the girls were born they initially had a third arm.
The Paper Cut
Because the twins only feel sensations on their respective sides of the body this made it difficult to control the extra arm so during infancy the extra arm was surgically removed.
What Happens When They Get Sick?
When Abby and Brittany Hensel feel ill, they truly deal with extraordinary situations. For example, Abby can only feel discomfort on the left side of her body while Brittany only has sensation on her right.
On the other hand, if one member of the pair has a stomach ache, the other twin feels the discomfort on the other side! While this might sound confusing to us, this is all that they know! Therefore, it is totally normal for them! What about body temperature?
Abby and Brittany Discuss Body Temperature on TV
In addition to the numerous other challenges that Abby and Brittany have to face, they also have two separate body temperatures. Given that body temperature is regulated by the brain, which the girls have two of, this makes sense. It also seems as though they have a line drawn down the middle.
Sometimes, one twin is sweaty while the other feels just fine. This must be confusing for them from time to time! It’s so interesting to think that only one half of the pair can be sweating at certain times.
Different Motor Control for Each Twin as Well!
In addition, both twins each have control over one half of the body! This means that each twin controls only one arm and one leg. How hard must it be for them to learn how to walk? Most of us use rhythm between both of our legs to get ourselves from place to place!
Instead, they have to coordinate their strides! In addition, they have learned how to run, brush their hair, swim, and even drive! Can you imagine driving while only having control of one leg?
How Did Abby and Brittany Learn How To Drive?
Of course, many people were curious about how Abby and Brittany learned how to drive a car. They both had to sit for the exam separately. In fact, each twin has her own driver’s license even though they have to drive a car together!
This means that, somehow, the twins had to take the driving test and written test separately. Can you imagine that? That must have been a unique experience for everyone who was in the room that day!
They Continue To Work Together To Drive a Car
It took a while for Abby and Brittany to master the teamwork of driving. For example, one twin is in control of the gas while the other twin is in charge of the brakes. One twin also has control over the turn signal.
This means that each twin has to place a lot of faith in the other. Fortunately, they agree that both twins are good drivers! This is great not only for them but also for everyone else who might be on the road around them!
How Do The Twins Get Dressed in the Morning?
It can also be a challenge for them to get dressed in the morning. Over the years, the twins have had to learn to compromise. Sometimes, one twin does not agree with the other when it comes to the look of the day.
Even though the twins have their different styles, they have learned to compromise over the years. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the twins sporting different looks on the same body? Luckily, this doesn’t happen much!
Natural Looks Versus Bright and Colorful
When it comes to getting dressed, Abby tends to favor bright, colorful looks. On the other hand, Brittany enjoys a more muted vibe. This also has to do with their personalities! It makes sense that because Abby likes brighter colors, she is also the more outspoken of the pair!
She is usually the first one to speak up. It is the differences in their personalities and styles that make Abby and Brittany Hensel a lot of fun to be around!
They Lead Different Social Lives as Well
It should make sense that because Abby is more outgoing, she is more likely to socialize with others. Perhaps that is where her bright clothes come from. Even though Abby is more social, Brittany claims to be the one who likes to explore the world more often.
Abby does like to socialize, but she also describes herself as more of a “homebody.” This is just another way that their differences make for an interesting pair! What else separates the two?
The Possibility of Dating
Both Abby and Brittany understand that how they choose to date and if they choose to become mothers is a topic of curisioty for most. With that being said they prefer to keep these areas of their lives private as the girls are very different people.
Abby stated “Yeah, we are going to be moms one day, but we don’t want to talk about how it’s going to work yet.” For the Hensel twins, it’s all about the compromise, they always try to meet halfway and ensure they are both happy about the decision they have made.
Abby and Brittany Discuss a Fear of Heights
There are other ways that Abby and Brittany Hensel are different as well! For example, Brittany has a fear of heights! This is not something that Abby shares. In addition, Brittany tends to like art classes more. In contrast, Abby tends to like hard sciences, such as biology.
There are other interesting differences as well. Abby doesn’t seem to have any problems drinking coffee while Brittany develops a racing heart if she consumes caffeine! Isn’t that rather interesting?
The Pair Lead a Normal Life Together
Overall, it is the differences between Abby and Brittany Hensel that keep their lives interesting. Despite this, they have been able to lead somewhat normal lives. They have figured out how to study on their own.
They also have jobs. They even have social engagements from time to time. On the other hand, the two do keep something from the public eye. They do not discuss whether they are in a relationship of any kind. That they decide to keep private.
The Twins Have Made Plenty of Strong Friendships
Even if they do not talk about their significant others, Abby and Brittany Hensel have been able to form plenty of strong friendships that they take great joy in sharing! For example, the two enjoy traveling the world.
When they travel, they do receive a lot of unwanted attention; however, like other areas of their lives, they have learned to deal with this effectively. They even have their own passports even if they share a seat on the plane when they fly!
Abby and Brittany Get the Protection of Travelers
Fortunately, Abby and Brittany Hensel are great at making friends. When they travel from place to place, they often see others taking pictures of them as soon as they get off the plane.
Even though they are vigilant for people snapping photos of them when they land, they usually travel with friends who watch out for them. Sometimes, their fellow travelers will even provide them with some protection from people who simply see them as a circus show, which is sad.
Their Friends Always Look Out for Them
Sometimes, Abby and Brittany Hensel’s friends are willing to discuss what life is like as well. For example, a pal of theirs, named Erin, simply explained that she wants to make sure the twins are safe. Because they attract a lot of attention, not all of the attention is good.
Facebook/Abigail and Brittany Hensel
Even though Abby and Brittany are used to the attention they receive, some crowds can still be draining for them. Therefore, it is nice to have friends around who watch out for them!
The Twins Are Amazingly Resilient People
Of course, Abby and Brittany are different from anyone else. Therefore, they do everything they can to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, they do receive a lot of unwanted attention. According to their friends, they have become incredibly resilient people.
This means that the twins serve as a shining example to everyone else who might be different, yet they too can survive in this world. The twins have a lot of potential that they work hard to realize every day.
The Twins’ Mother Is the Same as Any Other
If you were to ask any mother what she wanted for her child, she would likely say that she wants her child to be happy and successful. That is exactly what the twins’ mother wants as well. She simply wants them to be happy, healthy, and successful.
Even though she keeps up with what her children are doing, she doesn’t pry like the rest of the world does. Instead, she simply wants her kids to check in with her occasionally. She only wants to know that they are okay.
A Strong Family Bond
Despite the girls’ physical limitations, the twins’ parents have always been their biggest supporters and believers. The girls parents never stopped believing that Brittany and Abby would survive and grow up to be a very successful pair.
The girls parents sacrificed a lot to take care of the twins and to encourage them to accept and cherish their separate personalities. The girls have openly discussed how they feel very blessed to have always had their parents unconditional love and support.
The Twins Make Regular Appearances on TV
As a way to use their platform in a positive way, the twins make regular appearances on TV to share their stories. For example, the twins went on The Oprah Winfrey Show at just six years of age. Then, the twins landed on the cover of Life Magazine as well.
Facebook/Abigail and Brittany Hensel
This has only led to the international acclaim the twins deal with today. Even though it certainly took some adjustments, the twins have gotten used to the fame and deal with it well.
Abby and Brittany Have Even Made a Documentary
When the girls were around 12 years of age, they decided to make a documentary of their life. The documentary was titled Joined for Life, and the documentary was a major hit! It turns out lots of people wanted to know what the girls’ lives were like as conjoined twins!
Eventually, they went on to land another series about their lives, called Abby and Brittany, which aired on BBC. This was quite an experience for them, particularly at such a young age.
The Twins Use Their Platform in a Positive Way
Even though the twins did have to think carefully about how they were going to use the platform, they wanted to show the world what it was like to live as conjoined twins.
Even though the world watched with amazement, Abby and Brittany Hensel wanted to show their viewing audience that they lived a life that was just like everyone else’s even though they are never able to physically separate from one another. They enjoyed showing the world what they do.
Abby and Brittany Lead a Fun Life
It is always interesting when people meet the twins for the first time! They expect to hear something unusual! In reality, the twins take great pleasure in letting people know that they do the same things as anyone else. They try to show that their lives are not that different from anyone else.
Sure, the twins know that their conditions do complicate some aspects of their lives; however, they do enjoy a sense of normalcy, engaging in typical activities for their age.
The Twins Attend Bethel University
The show covered a variety of topics as the twins grew up. The twins left home for the first time and attended Bethel University. After that, they both had to go out and get jobs. This is something that they did together as they would have to work together at all times.
Facebook/Abigail and Brittany Hensel
It was an opportunity for the audience to get an inside look at exactly what it was like to find a job as conjoined twins. Of course, it led to a unique college experience as well.
Abby and Brittany Share a Future Together
Fortunately, the twins were both interested in the same topics. They both wanted a future in education. Even though they did think about specializing in different areas of teaching, they realized that they would have to study the same topic side by side.
Facebook/Abigail and Brittany Hensel
Out of all the options available to them, they decided to study elementary education. They wanted to work with kids at of formative age, which this career path afforded them. Now, what would the future hold for them?
One Last Hurrah
Following their graduation from Bethel University, they Europe the twins decided to travel to Europe and visit their friends in England and Italy. The sisters showed off their adventurous side touring all the local spots on a moped.
Facebook/Abigail and Brittany Hensel
Believe it or not this was not Abby and Brittany’s first time traveling solo together far from home. The girls originally studied in Europe and even held a brief teaching stint in London. The girls deamed this trip their “last hurrah” before coming back and starting their full-blown career.
The Twins Reveal Their Exciting News!
Of course, the entire series was leading up to a big reveal at the end. The show wrapped up in 2012. At the end, Abby and Brittany Hensel revealed the big news together. They ended up getting a job!
Without a doubt, the job search was difficult, given their unique circumstances; however, the show went ahead and explained what the new position was for the girls. They were even finishing each other’s sentences as they talked about the future they would share together.
The New Job Specializing in Elementary Math
After finishing their education, the twins got a job specializing in elementary school math! Together, they are going to teach separate math classes. They specialize in teaching math at the fourth and fifth-grade levels. Furthermore, the position they have taken is part-time.
This means that they will have an opportunity to transition into their new roles together. Teaching is a challenging position for anyone. It may be more difficult for conjoined twins, and the twins are going to face these challenges as one.
Their Mother Reflects on Their Decisions
Every kid has dreams and plays pretend when they are little. The twins’ mother reflected on their path to their current professions. When they were younger, the twins used to pretend that they wanted to be a pilot and a dentist.
Ultimately, it turns out that this was relatively short-lived. Even though parents want to foster the dreams of their children, it turns out that Abby and Brittany have made the right career move for them and their futures.
Abby and Brittany Hensel Embark on Their Future Journeys
Now, Abby and Brittany are excited to start their new journeys together, as they are going to impact the lives of children everywhere. Of course, their boss did have to call HR to discuss the hiring situation with them!
It turns out the twins are going to split the salary of the part-time position together. Without a doubt, any child who is lucky enough to end up in one of their classes is going to learn not only math but life skills as well!
Taking a Step Back
Following their college graduation and the conclusion of their TLC series, Abby and Brittany Hensel decided to take a step back from the public eye.
Facebook/Abigail and Brittany Hensel
This included the twins deciding to take a step away from their social media platforms as well. Neither Abby or Brittany have posted to any platform in just about seven years.
Why Take a Step Back?
It is safe to assume the girls decided to take a step out of the lime-light because Abby and Brittany just want to live ordinary lives. This is completely understandable based off the fact spent much of their adolescent years in the public eye with heavy media coverage.
The girls are reportedly doing very well and have adapted to their role as Mrs Hensel & Mrs. Hensel. Their strudents reportedly love them and everyone who gets the opportunity to be in their class is considered very lucky.
Why Were the Twins Never Separated?
Due to Abby and Brittany’s shared vital organs (such as an enlarged liver, a bladder, a diaphragm, both reproductive and digestive systems, and intestines) as well as they fact that each twin controls one arm and one leg, separating them would be extremely difficult and dangerous.
Due to the risks, Abby and Brittany’s parents decided that it would be best to not risk the twin’s lives, but have them live the lives they were born into.
Separation of Conjoined Twins Is Possible
In 2020, two conjoined twins entered the world. In 2021, the two twins, named Addison and Lilianna Altobelli were surgically separated. They were 10-months-old at the time of the separation.
The two girls were joined at the abdomen and chest. They also shared a liver, diaphragm, chest, and abdominal wall. They were good candidates for separation because they had two separate and healthy hearts and a large enough liver to divide between them.
A Shocking Ultrasound
Parents Maggie and Dom Altobelli learned that they were having conjoined twins at a 20-week ultrasound appointment. According to Maggie, they were trying to figure out the gender of one of the babies, but it became more complicated as the minutes passed by.
Courtesy Altobelli family
Maggie called it an “out of body experience” as she and her husband became more and more enlightened about the situation, as the doctors noticed that the twins had one stomach.
Welcome to the World
The girls were born at Children’s Hospital on November 18, 2020 in the Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit. From there they were transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit to prepare for their impending surgery.
Thanks to the miracles of modern science, the girls’ surgery was already mapped out, and the doctors could therefore enter very well prepared. Skin expanders were inserted to prepare Addison and Lilianna for their surgery.
A Year to Prepare
Nearly an entire year since the girls entered the world, they were separated from each other successfully on October 13th, 2021. The operation took a total of 10 hours to complete.
The twin’s parents described the moment they saw their girls unattached from each other for the first time as “amazing” and “indescribable.” Of course, the entire experience from start to finish is so difficult to imagine, these words seem befitting enough.
After the surgery, Maggie and Dom flew back to their home in Chicago, Illinois. Each parent traveled with a twin, respectively. Once the twins returned home, they spent another two weeks at the Lurie Children’s Hospital.
To continue the trend of being miraculous, the girls were able to be discharged right before the holidays to be with their beaming and overjoyed parents.
An Unbreakable Connection
Though Lilianna and Addison have been surgically removed from each other, it doesn’t change the fact that they were sharing blood streams and bodies since the time they were inside their mother’s womb.
Unsurprisingly, the girls still like to be incredibly close when they are together. The girls both need breathing tubes to sustain themselves for now to help with oxygen levels, but they are thriving.
Nothing But Gratitude
While the circumstances thrust upon their family were great, Maggie and Dom were able to overcome it. Maggie said, “This is our journey. It’s a very special one in many ways.”
“These girls are going to live long, healthy lives. It’s pretty miraculous and unbelievable that we are living this life.” There is no doubt that the prosperous attitude of Maggie and Dom helped and will continue to help the twins lead incredible lives.
How Often Do Conjoined Twins Happen?
Conjoined twins happen once in every 50,000 to 200,000 births according to a peer-reviewed study in the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Sadly, around 60% of conjoined twin pregnancies end in stillbirth (the death of a baby before delivery). From those that survive, 60% of separated conjoined twins survive after surgery. It truly is miraculous that these twins survived!
Modern Medicine Has Propelled the World Forward
Once upon a time, conjoined twins were treated horribly, as though they were nothing more than objects to be stared at. Chang and Eng Bunker were Siamese-American conjoined twin brothers. Their fame propelled the expression “Siamese twins” to become synonymous with conjoined twins.
The twins were exhibited as curiosities and “two of the nineteenth century’s most studied human beings.” It is thanks to modern medicine and the continued study of such phenomena that future conjoined twins will have their shot at leading separate lives.
The Tragic Story of the Hilton Sisters
The Hilton sisters were English-born sisters that were another pair of conjoined twins. Their story was very tragic starting from the moment they were born and were faced with a large uphill battle from then on.
The girls were exploited by their caregivers and lived a life that most would see as sad and exploitative. Read below for more about the tragic story of the Hilton sisters.
The Girls Were Not Expected to Live
Daisy and Violet Hilton were born in February of 1908 in Brighton. The girls were born connected at the hip and buttocks. They shared a circulatory system, and their pelvis was fused, however they did not share any major organs.
The girls were given only a few weeks to live, however they pulled through. Doctors considered surgically separating them, however they feared that they would kill them if they tried.
Their Mother Thought They Were Her Punishment
Their mother, Kate Skinner, was an unwed barmaid who believed that the birth of her daughter’s was a punishment from God for her sins. She did not want to have to deal with everything that came with her “punishment.”
While the girls’ mother saw them as invaluable, someone else had their eye on them and felt that the girls would be an excellent cash cow.
Children to View
Mary Hilton, Kate’s employer, saw the immediate commercial value in the girls and bought them from Kate. Mary immediately put the girls on exhibition in the local pubs.
Spectators were charged two pennies to come and stare at the children and touch the place where they were conjoined. Mary also sold postcards with the children’s photos on them.
Mary Hilton Treated Them Very Badly
Mary Hilton was incredibly awful to the twins. She was both physically and emotionally abusive towards the girls. They were both forced to call her “Aunt Lou” and call her husband “sir.”
The girls were whipped with a belt if they misbehaved and forced them to spend a majority of their time singing, dancing, and learning how to be performers. Even after Mary’s death the twins were treated very badly.
Mary died, and her daughter Edith took over. Edith essentially held the girl’s captive. They were threatened with being institutionalized if they tried to escape. The girls were subjected to beatings and to practice their routines.
Soon enough, Daisy was skilled in the violin and Violet could play the saxophone. In 1926 they even performed with Bob Hope in a tap routine.
They Emancipated Themselves
Though they mostly were not allowed to engage with the public, they did manage to strike up a friendship with famed magician Harry Houdini. Houdini urged the women to get themselves emancipated.
In 1931 they decided to do just that and free themselves from their contractual obligations. They were also awarded $100,000 in damages, though they should have been awarded way more. They saw a small slice of what they made their captors.
They Formed Their Own Sideshow
The twins decided to perform on vaudeville as the “Hilton Sisters’ Revue.” Daisy dyed her hair blonde to differentiate herself from her sister and the two began to wear different clothes. They wanted people to be able to tell who was who.
When vaudeville began to decline in popularity, they moved on to burlesque venues. They were figuring out ways to self sustain themselves.
One of Them Got a Boyfriend
During this time of freedom, Violet entered into a relationship with a musician named Maurice Lambert. The pair wanted to get married but were not able to maintain a marriage license.
The pair applied in 21 states and were denied on the grounds of “gross indecency.” They never wed.
Violet Did End Up Marrying
Violet did end up marrying, but not to Maurice Lambert. Violet ended up marrying a man named James Moore in 1936. Many people believed that this was simply a publicity stunt as they charged 25 cents for fans to attend the ceremony.
However, the marriage lasted 10 years. The pair had their marriage annulled. Daisy also married in 1941 to a dancer named Harold Estep, or Buddy Sawyer (his stage name.) The marriage only lasted for 10 days.
Disappearing Into Obscurity
The women attempted to perform in show business and did for a while before public interest completely dwindled. Their last public appearance was in 1961 at a drive-in in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Their tour manager abandoned them and with no money or means of transportation, they were forced to get jobs as produce clerks at a local Park-N-Shop. They stayed there for the rest of their lives.
Other Cases Of Conjoined Twins: Lea and Tabea Block
Born on August 9, 2003 in Lemgo, Germany to parents Peter and Nelly Block, Lea and Tabea were born conjoined twins. The girls were physically connected by an incomplete splitting of a single fertilized egg that gave them life 10 months earlier.
John Hopkins University
Lea and Tabea are the rarest kind of conjoined twins. Craniopagus (meaning conjoined at the head), occurs only once in every 2 million live births. The girls were separated on September 16, in 2004. Unfortunately Tabea passed away shortly thereafter.
Tatiana and Anastasia Dogaru
Tatiana and Anastasia Dogaru were born on January 13, 2004, in Rome to parents Claudia and Alin Dogaru. The girls were delivered connected at the head. In August of 2007, the family traveled to America and doctors at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio announced that they would not perform a separation of the girls.
The surgery was deemed too risky by doctors because they said they could not guarantee survival of both girls. The girls have been side by side their whole lives but have never been able to look at each other directly in the eyes . The girls have had a struggle for survival and for Claudia and Alin, every milestone they reach is a blessing.
Jade and Erin Buckles
Born February 26, 2004, to Melissa and Kevin Buckles at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Jade and Erin Buckles were born conjoined from their chest to their navel, shared their liver and Erin’s heart was inside Jade’s chest and beat in sync with it.
They two underwent a massive surgery to separate them on June 19, 2004. The surgery was a success and the girls were discharged from the hospital only 12 days later. As the twins grew it became clear Erin had suffered a stroke to her spinal cord during the separation surgery and was left paralized from the waist down.
Abbigail and Isabelle Carlsen
Born on November 29, 2005, in Fargo, North Dakota, to parents Amy and Jesse Carlsen Abbigail and Isabelle were born joined at the abdomen and chest. On May 12, 2006, a team of 30 people, including 18 surgeons from various specialties at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, successfully performed an operation to separate the girls.
The girls are now 16 years old and are reportedly thriving since the separation surgery in 2004. Their success story still leaves family members, and medical teams alike astonished and inspired. Dr. Christopher Moir, who led the team of surgeons said to this day every time he hears about how well the girls are doing his “heart leaps” because he knows just how lucky they are to have beaten the odds.
Preslee Faith and Kylee Hope Wells
Born October 25, 2008, in Oklahoma City to parents Stevie Stewart and Kylie Wells Preslee Faith and Kylee Hope were born attached at the chest. This was reportedly the first set of Native American conjoined twins.
On January 19, 2009, the girls were successfully separated at Children’s Hospital OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City. Unfortunately, on February 19, of 2011, a statement was released by the girl’s parents letting everyone know Preslee Faith had passed away and that they “were thankful for the time they had with her and proud of her fight to recover from surgery”.