Abigail Loraine Hensel and Brittany Lee Hensel were born on 7 March 1990, Carver County, Minnesota, United States and they are dicephalic conjoined twins. Brittany is the left twin, and Abigail is the right twin. They have two spines which join at the pelvis. They have two stomachs, three lungs, and two arms. (A third, underdeveloped and useless arm between their heads was removed in infancy.)
Most of Abigail and Brittany's shared organs lie below the waist line. The deatil is presented below:
2 arms -- originally 3, but the short malformed central arm was removed
2 spinal cords and backbones which merge at the pelvis - surgery corrected scoliosis 3½ lungs -- surgery expanded their chest cavity
2 hearts in a shared circulatory system -- medicine taken by either affects both
1 bladder 1 ribcage
1 large intestine
1 female reproductive system.
Upon their birth, their parents rejected the option to attempt surgical separation after hearing from doctors that it was not likely that both girls would survive the operation. As the girls grew and learned to walk and develop other skills, the parents confirmed their decision against separation, arguing that the quality of life for the surviving twin or twins living separately would be less than their quality of life as conjoined beings.
They both successfully passed their driver's license exam, both the written and driving tests. They had to take the tests twice, once for each twin. Abby controls the pedals, radio, heat, defogger, and other devices located to the right of the driver's seat, while Brittany controls the turn signal and lights; together, they control the steering wheel. They also want to visit the UK, so they can both have a chance to use their opposite controls.
They both graduated from high school in 2008. They began college at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.
In conversation, they are clearly distinct persons, with distinct likes and dislikes. The twins' 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 (e.g., each takes a bite of the same hamburger). Abigail is better at mathematics and Brittany is better at writing. For tasks such as responding to e-mail, they type and respond as one, anticipating each other’s feelings with little verbal communication between them. In such cases as the latter, their choice of grammatical person is to use the first person singular out of habit when they agree, but when their responses do differ, they use their names in the third person singular.
There is some concern about their ability to have continued good health because only four known sets of conjoined twins who share an undivided torso and two legs have ever survived into adulthood, and most have congenital heart defects or other organ anomalies. None have shown up in the Hensels' case. They have so far had no desire to make themselves available for any medical studies. They intend to make a rather limited number of media appearances in the future, primarily just to appease the world's curiosity and to reduce the number of people who might otherwise be taken aback by their unusual body configuration. They intensely dislike being stared at or photographed by strangers while going about their private lives. They expect to date, get married, and have children. They hope that by providing some information about themselves they will be able to lead otherwise fairly typical social lives as together they continue to make new friends.