Abigail "Abby" Loraine Hensel and Brittany "Britty" Lee Hensel (born 7 March 1990, Carver County, Minnesota, United States), are highly symmetric dicephalic parapagus conjoined twins, and further, tribrachius, bipedus. They have two spines and separate half-sacrums, which converge distally within a slightly broad pelvis. They each control and sense their corresponding arm and leg; a third, rudimentary central arm was amputated in infancy.
Each of the twins manages one side of their conjoined body and they are quite ambidextrous and coordinated in both their arms and legs when both hands or both legs are required. By coordinating their efforts, they are able to walk, run and ride a bicycle normally — all tasks that they learned at a normal speed. They each write with their corresponding hand. They can together type on a computer keyboard at a normal speed. Their sense of touch is partitioned each to their own body half which shades off at the midsagittal plane such that there is a small amount of overlap at their midline. They enjoy hobbies and sports including volleyball, kickball, swimming, basketball, and cycling. They also play the piano and are avid computer users. They enjoy softball, digital photography, the internet, social networking, and talking on the telephone. When they go to the cinema, they pay for two tickets.
In conversation, they are clearly distinct persons, with distinct likes and dislikes. Despite sharing a body, 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 spelling. 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 would prefer not to be 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.
|First aired||Title||Distributor||Produced by|
|April 8, 1996||The Oprah Winfrey Show||King World Productions||Harpo Productions|
|March 27 2003||Joined for Life||Discovery Channel||Advanced Medical Productions, American Broadcasting Company|
|December 17 2006||Joined for Life: Abby and Brittany Turn 16||The Learning Channel||Advanced Medical Productions|
|February 19 2007||Extraordinary People: The Twins Who Share a Body||Five (UK)||One North|