The American conjoined twins Abby and Brittany Hensel are currently living in their home town of Minnesota where they are employed at Sunnyside Elementary School, New Brighton, Minnesota.
Both Brittany Lee Hensel and her twin, Abigail Loraine Hensel are qualified teachers with Bachelor’s degrees in education; the sisters teach fourth and fifth grades. They sparked a lot of public interest after they appeared on the set of Oprah Winfrey Show and since then, they have made so many other media appearances. The girls have expressed their wish to get married one day but are currently single.
When were the Conjoined Twins Born?
The Conjoined Twins, Brittany Lee Hensel, and Abigail Loraine Hensel were born on the 7th of March 1990. The duo’s year of birth indicates that they are currently 33 years old. The records captured their place of birth as Carver County, Minnesota in the United States which makes them American by nationality.
The twins were born to Mike Hensel who works and earns a living as a carpenter cum landscaper. Their mother, on the other hand, has been identified as a registered nurse called Patty Hensel.
Far from being the only children born to Patty and Mike, Abigail and Brittany spent their formative years with two siblings, a brother, and a sister, though their identities are not known.
What Condition were Twins Abby and Brittany Hensel Born With?
The Hensel sisters are dicephalic parapagus twins. What this means is that they have two distinct heads that are joined to a single torso. Their condition was declared to be highly symmetric with the appearance of having just one body completely devoid of marked variation/distinction from typical proportions.
The conjoined twins sport two heads, two necks, one chest but a bit wider than normal, two arms (there was an extra arm that was surgically removed), and two legs.
Reports said the Hensel girls came with a rudimentary arm at birth; the arm was stuck between the lowest part of their necks and attached to one of their shoulder blades at the back. The rudimentary arm was not allowed to stay as it was surgically removed but the shoulder blade was left untouched
Brittany Lee Hensel’s head tilts laterally, sitting at about 15 degrees towards the left while Abigail Loraine Hensel’s tilts laterally outward at about five degrees toward the right. This arrangement makes Brittany appear shorter when the twins are seated.
Brittany sports a leg that is almost two inches shorter than her sister’s and has the propensity to always walk on tip-toe, making her calf muscle considerably larger than Abigail’s. After they were born, the continued growth of Abigail’s spine had to be surgically stopped after Britt prematurely stopped growing.
The American conjoined twins were barely 12 when they had surgery to correct scoliosis. The procedure was also to expand the girl’s chest cavity so as to prevent breathing trouble. The surgery was done at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.
The Conjoined Twins’ Organ distribution
In the upper part of the conjoined twins’ body, they have individual organs but they share every other thing below with the exception of their spinal cord. Get a detailed list of their organ distribution below.
- Two heads
- Two spines that merged at the coccyx and also joined at their thorax (chest cavity) by sections of ribs. Scoliosis was corrected by surgery.
- Two completely distinct spinal cords
- Two arms (originally three, rudimentary arm was surgically removed with the central shoulder blade left in place)
- One broad ribcage with two fused sternums; there are traces of bridging ribs. The pleural cavities were surgery expanded.
- Two breasts
- Two hearts functioning in a joint circulatory system (respiration, nutrition, and medication taken by either of the twins affects both)
- Four lungs but the medial lungs are moderately fused; it does not involve Britt’s upper right lobe; there are three pleural cavities
- One diaphragm with well-coordinated involuntary breathing, but there is a slight central defect
- Two stomachs
- Two gallbladders
- One liver; right lobe enlarged and elongated
- Y-shaped small intestine, sporting slightly spastic dual peristalsis at the juncture
- One large intestine (one rectum, colon, and anus)
- Three kidneys: two left and one right
- One bladder
- A single set of reproductive organs
- Two distinct half-sacrums converging distally
- One slightly broad pelvis
- Two legs
Did Abby and Brittany Hensel Consider Separation
According to reports, Mike and Patty considered separation after their twins were born but later decided to go against it. Their reason for avoiding any form of surgical separation was that the medical experts said the possibility of the two of them surviving was very slim.
Besides, even as conjoined twins, the possibility of them making it to six years old was also slim. In fact, many conjoined twins have been known to come out stillborn (including animals), and getting to adulthood is something that is considered to be rare. However, Brittany and Abbey seem to have defied all odds to make it to adulthood.
As they were growing and developing the necessary skills, Mike and Patty saw that the quality of life the girls live as conjoined twins was much richer than what the surviving twins would have experienced separately. Thus, letting them be was the best decision.
Who controls the body, Abby or Brittany Hensel?
The American conjoined twins share control of their bodies. While the Hensel girls have one spine, stomach, heart, pair of lungs, and two completely distinct spinal cords, each has control of one leg and one arm.
During infancy, learning how to crawl, clap, and walk, called for some corporation. They can write and eat both separately and concurrently. Other activities where they must corporate include swimming, running, playing piano, hair-brushing, playing volleyball, driving a car, or riding a bicycle.
Each of the twins is responsible for managing their own side of the body as the sense of touch for each person is totally restricted to their body half, however, they may experience a small overlap at the mid-line as it shades off at their midsagittal plane. Besides, the girl on the opposite side will feel stomach aches.
The Twins’ Academic Journey
There are many who considered Abigail and Britany as one person because of their condition, but they were totally wrong. The Hensel siblings are distinctive individuals with separate choices in everything, including their preferred course of study.
Growing up in New Germany Minnesota, the American conjoined twins joined Mayer Lutheran High School, located in Mayer. After completing their high school graduation in 2008, the sisters had a conflict of interest in the courses they wanted to study.
According to Naked Stories, one of the twins wanted to become a pilot while the other was considering studying dentistry. However, the fact that they share the same body killed their dreams of going for their chosen professions.
At the end of the day, the sister’s shared passion for teaching came to their rescue. Joining Bethel University, Arden Hills, Minnesota, Brittany went for English while Abby studied mathematics. They graduated in 2012 with Bachelor of Education degrees.
What do the American Conjoined Twins do for a Living?
After graduating with Bachelor’s degrees, the American conjoined twins sought to join the teaching profession. In 2013, they scored a job at Sunnyside Elementary, New Brighton, Minnesota to teach both fourth and fifth grade.
According to what the head of the school, Paul Good told BBC, he employed Abigail and Brittany because they were qualified for the job and had the natural ability to motivate others.
The twins have been with the school for one decade and are doing quite well at their job. The only issue they encountered is being paid one salary to share. Britt and Abbey said they have plans to renegotiate with the school authorities for a raise.
From what is obvious, the conjoined twins are enjoying teaching at the school as both the pupils and fellow teaching staff love them. When quizzed, they responded that the twin’s physical appearance is a non-issue so long as they are competent teachers.
The girls refused to open social media accounts for the sole reason that people often stare at them which really makes them uncomfortable.
The Conjoined Twins Recorded Several Media Appearances
Since they became adults, the American conjoined twins have appeared on the sets of several shows on TV and in the print media. They were first seen on the 8th and 29th of April on the set of The Oprah Winfrey Show and it was that particular appearance that announced them to the world.
Before the month wrapped up, the twins showed up on the cover page of Life with a caption saying “One Body, Two Souls”, describing their day-to-day life under the article, entitled, “The Hensels’ Summer”.
In September 1998, Life did a follow-up story on the twins. In 2002, the Hensel girls were seen on Advanced Medical Channel’s TV documentary called, Joined for Life; this was viewed on Discovery Health Channel. In 2003, they released a follow up, dubbed, Joined at Birth.
2003 also was when an updated story about the girls at 11 that was shot in 2001 got published in Time and later in Life. Joined for Life is the title of the documentary that ABC TV did about them in 2005 as a UK TV special; it aired as part of the Extraordinary People series.
Advanced Medical did a subsequent documentary in 2006 called Joined for Life: Abby & Brittany Turn 16; it focused on the girl’s adolescence, social life, school, and other activities like getting their driver’s licenses.
In August 2012, the American conjoined twins scored their own reality show on TLC entitled, Abby & Brittany; it was a single 8-episode season. The show aired in the United States and lasted till October 2012. BBC showed it in the United Kingdom between April and May 2013, covering the girl’s journey from completing their college education to scoring their teaching job.
Did Abby and Brittany Hensel get Married?
Abby and Brittany Hensel are currently single but when they appeared in an interview session on Discovery Channel at the age of 16, they expressed their wish to get married someday. The also said they would love to have their own kids.
Since then, the twins have totally refused to open up about their love lives and whom they might be seeing. According to the sisters, the entire world need not know the identity of their boyfriend. After providing these tidbits about themselves, Abby and Brittany said they hope people will allow them to lead their lives in peace.
On how convenient it will be for the duo to share one man, The Atlantic shed some light on the subject of Abby and Brittany having sex. According to the media outlet, it may be very tough for the twins to find perfect companions as making love with a man would be somewhat complicated. For Instance, if Brittany gets kissed while Abby looks on the unhappy hormones may refuse to be silenced.
To the best of our knowledge, they are yet to tie the knot and are not officially engaged.
There were Rumors about the Conjoined Twins Getting Married
While neither of the conjoined twins has said anything about getting married, we saw a viral TikTok video displaying their pictures in a wedding gown and posing with a guy whose identity has remained undisclosed to date.
Reddit also posted a headline “Conjoined twins Britt and Abby are now married!” However, there were no additional captions, only the accompanying pictures provided the details. Abby and Brittany were seen wearing a sleeveless white wedding gown complete with a sheer top in addition to lacy detailing. There was another image showing the twins with makeup and standing with a guy decked out in a gray suit.
Though the man is yet to be identified, he sports a beard and dark hair, and wore glasses. We will not forget to mention a third picture where the man appeared in casual wear sitting with the twins and they were all smiles.
More important is the fact that the unidentified man’s left ring finger displayed a thick black band – the popular band men now use for weddings. On their own part, Brittany and Abbey’s right ring finger spotted a silver ring which many concluded may be an engagement band.
There were also speculations that the girls may be pregnant and having a baby but all these rumors have been dispelled.
Where are Brittany and Hansel Now?
The conclusion of the conjoined twins’ TLC series coincided with their graduation from college and consequently, they left the public eye. Their exit from public attention triggered a lot of questions about their whereabouts.
However, recent reports revealed that the girls are hale and hearty despite the medical reports given at their birth that they would not live long. Already in their 33s, the girls are living life to the full and are not allowing their condition to douse their happiness.
They have now mastered how to exist as well as thrive with one body. According to what they told The Mirror, they no longer wish to be separated as it won’t allow them to do the things they do together.
As of 2023, they were still employed at Sunnyside Elementary, New Brighton, Minnesota, teaching both fourth and fifth grade, and from what is obvious, they are enjoying their job.