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Abby and Britty Hensel: conjoined twins in One Body

Updated on February 7, 2013
Abby and Britty riding on a bike
Abby and Britty riding on a bike

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The Conjoined Twins of Minnesota, USA probably the most talented twins ever

Update: These Hensel twins are filled with differing opinions, likes, and dislikes. Brittany loves writing and pink; Abby is into math and multicolored hair. Now, they're 21, full-time college students--and Brittany is engaged.

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INTRODUCTION: This is an unbelievable but true story of a conjoined twins who were born some 20 years ago in the US. Their parents have rejected surgical separationand have decided their twins to remain as is because doctors believed they are less likely to survive the operation, besides, the parents reasoned out, the twins quality of life would be far richer and meaningful than if they were to lead life separately. The twins have marked differences in feelings, taste and priorities, despite the fact that they are joined in one body. This conjoined twins are said to be products of a single egg that for some unknown reason failed to divide fully into identical twins.

ON the seventh day of March 1990 a conjoined twins was born to the couple Patty, a nurse and Mike Hensel, a carpenter of Carver County, Minnesota. They christened the twins Abigail Loraine Hensel and Brittany Lee Hensel who were nicknamed ABBY and BRITTY, respectively. The twins have a younger brother Dakota, or Koty, a younger sister Morgan and a dog Sadie.

Learning from doctors that there was but a very slim chance for the twins to survive the operation, their parents rejected the option to have their twins undergo surgical separation As they grew and learned to walk and develop other skills, the parents confirmed their decision against separation, reasoning that the conjoined twins quality of life would be far richer if the remain as is than if they were separated and live life individually. At age 12, they underwent surgery at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare to correct scoliosis and to expand their chest cavity to prevent future difficulties with breathing

Raised in New Germany, Minnesota, they both graduated from Lutheran High School in 2008. . Abby and Britty are attractive, smart, funny and outgoing twins. Each of them manages one side of their conjoined body and are quite effective in cooperatively using their limbs when both hands or both legs are required. By coordinating their efforts, they are able to walk, run, accomplish schoolwork, indulge in sports, play the piano, volleyball, softball, attend social activities and ride a bicycle and motorcycle normally — all tasks that they learned at a normal speed. Each writes with her hand. Together, they can type on a computer keyboard at a normal speed. The can also swim.

The duo are blessed to live in a wonderful family who are fully supportive of their strengths and weaknesses. The small and rural community in which they lived has learned to treat them like anyone else. Possibly they are the most normal and most talented conjoined twins ever. With one set of legs and one set of arms and several shared internal organs which are located at or below the level of the navel- their lives are destined to be lived together.

On their sixteenth birthday, they applied for their driver’s licenses which were issued to them separately after successfully passing both the written and actual driving tests twice- one for each twin. Abby controls the pedals, radio, heat, defogger, and other devices located to the right of the driver's seat, while Britty controls the turn signal and lights; together, they control the steering wheel.

They began college at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Some teachers make them each take tests using both of their hands - and some allow them to take it once. They are clearly two very different personalities. The issues of identity and boundaries of self are hard to define. They have distinct likes and dislikes. Their preferences in food, clothing color, etc. differ. Some of their clothes are altered by their seamstress so that they have two separate necklines in order to emphasize their individuality. They will usually have separate meals, but sometimes will share a single meal for the sake of convenience Abigail is better at mathematics and Brittany is better at writing.

Now they are teenagers. Abigail, the feisty, stubborn one, likes orange juice for breakfast while Brittany, the joker of the family, will touch only milk. Abigail loves pink and all things girly but Brittany prefers purple, multi-coloured hair and wearing unusual hats, and now they love to experiment with makeup and clothes and giggle about boys.

They don’t want themselves available for any medical studies. They want to limit their number of media appearances, primarily just to satisfy the world's curiosity and to reduce the number of people who may be shock looking at their unusual appearance. They intensely dislike being stared at or photographed by strangers. They expect to date, get married, and have children of their own. Britty is reportedly engaged to someone. How will Abby cope with her twin Britty?

Media appearances and Filmography

1. They appeared in a documentary Joined for Life in April 2006

2. They appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show on April 8 and April 29, 1996

3. They were featured on the cover of LIFE and their lifestyle was depicted in appropriate stories in 1998, 2003 in both Life and Time

4. In 2006 they visited a family in Texas where a twin girls has just died.

5. An updated story of them at age 11 was filmed in 2001

6. They appeared in a follow-up documentary on The Learning Channel on Dec. 17, 2006 filmed about the time of their 16th birthday.


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    • nick071438 profile image

      nick071438 4 years ago from City of Catbalogan, W, Samar, Philippines

      Thanks for the compliment Les ... I think the twins are paragons of virtues. Compared to other humans, they seem to be more satisfied and happy.

    • profile image

      Lesleysherwood 4 years ago

      I have watched all the documentaries on these girls. Your hub is very well written and researched. They truly are an inspiring pair. We think we have problems in life and then see people like this.

    • nick071438 profile image

      nick071438 5 years ago from City of Catbalogan, W, Samar, Philippines

      Indeed Abby and Britty Hensel are sterling models. Despite their handicap, they were able to accomplish things with flying colors. Thank you for the visit, Jamie.

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 5 years ago from Texas

      I saw a special about these girls on The Learning Channel.. they were actually very happy in spite of their situation. They were attending high school and have friends just like any other normal teenagers. Many of us can learn a lesson from these two girls. They were very inspiring. Great hub.. voting up!