Every day, babies, especially twins, are born, but you don’t usually read about them in the news. However, Brittany and Abigail Hensel, twins, made headlines in 1990, and there was a logical rationale for this. Brittany and Abigail, conjoined twins, were merged at the torso and were born with a single body due to the unusual syndrome of dicephalic parapagus. However, the females’ heads were distinct.
They also have a shared circulatory system, as well as two esophagi, two stomachs, three kidneys, two gallbladders, two hearts, two spines, four lungs, one liver, and a ribcage.
Conjoined twins are expected to be born in one out of every 189,000 births, and of them, 11% will have dicephalic parapagus. Sadly, only a few people born with this disease survive. These twins, however, made it through and have kept up their productive behavior.
From the waist down, all of their organs including their bladder, gut, and reproductive systems are shared. Their extremely rare illness resulted from a fertilized egg that didn’t correctly separate while in the womb. They had a third arm taken from their chest when they were young because it was undeveloped.
At age 12, more operations were carried out to correct their scoliosis and widen their chest cavities to avoid breathing problems in the future. Even so, the twins continued to go forward.
Each twin has control over an arm and a leg of their body. To the astonishment of everyone they knew, they discovered when they were small how to clap, crawl, and walk together in perfect unison.
Appearing on the cover of Life magazine and being asked to tell their tale on the Oprah Winfrey Show, they have gained national attention. Additionally, they were also the talk of the show in the documentary Joined for Life 2002, and in 2012, they even had their own television show, Abby & Brittany.
They both earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in education after successfully completing their high school educations at Bethel University and went on to earn jobs in teaching.
“We are fourth- and fifth-grade math specialists, so we’ll have two classes of math. It’s part time, which is nice, so we’ll be kind of transitioning into the teaching world,” as they explained in their series.
Noting, “When they were five, I remember one wanted to be a pilot and one wanted to be a dentist. That was short-lived.” their mother Patty observed that they had different career aspirations when the girls were young.
Explaining that, “They’ve just always had a knack with kids, and kids have always been kind of drawn to them. Maybe [it] started by curiosity but then once their simple questions are answered they still are just drawn to Ab and Brit,” She believes that they made the right decision for their career paths.
“After our interview I showed the girls out the door. I came back in the room and before I even sat back down one of the people said, ‘Run after them, hire them, give them the job,” the principal who hired them explained, noting that it was an easy decision.
Conjoined twins on staff were “uncharted ground,” he said, adding that he was determined to make sure everything fit. Saying, “That’s why I called [human resources]… ‘Hello, H.R., what can we do? How does this all work?’”
By saying, “What we’ve done is we’ve sent out letters… and will reintroduce [the Hensels] again during open house,” he also assisted in formally introducing them to the school community.
As the principal stated, “I think anyone sits with these exceptional young women, I think any of their concerns will just vanish,” the girls had earned the position.
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