1% chance of survival: Conjoined twins reach adulthood
On March 7th, 1990, as Patty Hensel was in labor, she had no idea the birth of her child would go down in medical history. During the birth there were complications and the doctors decided to carry out a Cesarean section. Everything went according to plan, but then the surgeon realized there was something wrong with the baby.
In the delivery room time stood still for a moment when the doctors and nurses saw a little girl with two heads and three arms.
This phenomenon is known in medicine as dicephaly, more simply known as "two-headedness." It means that twin fetuses develop insufficiently in their mother's womb, so that only head, neck and possibly a few organs are doubled. In Patty Hensel's pregnancy, not only did the baby have two heads, but also two hearts, two spinal columns, two throats and two stomachs. The rest of the body was shared.
After the first examination, doctors made the prognosis that the children would die in only a few hours. But through some miracle, Abigail and Brittany, as they were lovingly named by their parents, survived.
The doctors suggested an operation to separate the two girls but the probability that one or both of them would die in the attempt was too great, so their parents ultimately decided against it. However, four months later, surgeons were able to successfully remove the sisters' third stunted arm.
From this point on, Abigail and Brittany developed as normal twins, just with the difference that they shared one body. They grew up in the small town of New Germany in Minnesota. Despite their physical differences, they learned to run, and with a particularly impressive technique: Abigail controls the arm and leg on the right, Brittany the ones on the left. In childhood, they developed their coordination so they could play baseball, volleyball, softball and piano. On top of that, they also liked to go swimming and bowling. And if that wasn't enough, as teenagers they also got their drivers' licenses. After graduation, they studied at university and later worked as teachers.
Abigail and Brittany are two completely different personalities. They have different tastes and interests and fight with each other just like any other two sisters. But the fact that they are still alive is practically miraculous, as two-headed conjoined twins almost never reach adulthood — normally the fetuses die while they are still in the womb. Only one in 100,000 births results in conjoined twins, and only 1% of them live to see their first birthdays.
The following video is a short documentary about the lives of both sisters:
Today, Abby and Brittany are 27 years old. They have overcome all the challenges life has thrown at them up to now. But that's not all — in 1997 they had their first appearance on a talk show, followed by several documentaries. In 2012, they were the stars of their own reality show. It remains to be seen what life still has in store for both of them, but we're sure they'll meet it the way they do everything else: as a team.