Conjoined twins often don’t survive childhood. Even if they do, the lives they live are wrought with hardship and severe problems. Abby and Brittany Hensel decided to challenge that stereotype and try to live their lives as normal as possible. They are stars of their own TV show, Abby and Brittany, showing on TLC.
When they were born, their parents were offered an option of surgical separation. Knowing the huge risk of one of them not surviving it, they declined. Abby and Brittany are joined at the ribcage. From below pelvis, they share everything, as well as internal organs, and reproductive organs. Each girl has her own lungs, spine, and stomach. They had to undergo several surgeries as they grew up and complications arose. One of them was to remove a small, rudimentary arm that was growing between them. The other was to stop the growth of Abby’s spine after Brittany stopped growing.
Sharing a body with another person is a daunting task, as Abbey and Brittany found out the hard way. Every action has to be coordinated. Even walking was a huge obstacle since Abby is a few inches taller. That means that Brittany has to tiptoe in order to achieve height parity.
Despite the odds, the girls managed not only to learn how to walk, but ride a bike, swim, and run as well. Today they even drive a car.
There are a few problems, though. Their taste in food, for one, isn’t exactly the same. They also had to learn how to differentiate and have a unique mental connection, as if each knows what the other one is thinking. When writing, they will use “I” is they both agree on something and if not, they will use their names.
Abby and Brittany graduated from Bethel University, majoring in education. They immediately started looking for a job and found one, a part-time teacher. The job came after the documentary about their life, called Abby and Brittany: Joined for Life, was aired on TV. Soon after, they got a full-time position in a school. Curiously, they only get one paycheck, which they have to share. Kids they teach react excellently to them and many see them as an inspiration.
One wish they both share is to get married and have children. This obviously raises a host of ethical questions and that makes them unwilling to discuss the issue publicly.
But even if they don’t solve that problem, they will always have each other.