For anyone who does not know who Abby and Brittany Hensel are, they are a set of conjoined twins that share one body but have two separate heads. They first entered the spotlight in 1996 when they appeared on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. From there, they went on to do appear in magazines such as Time Magazine, they were in a documentary, and they even had their own show on TLC.
For many years, people have wondered how they get by, if they ever thought about having a doctor try and separate them, and what their romance life is like.
Well, when it comes to their romance life, they are pretty hush-hush about it and prefer to keep that part of their lives private, but when it comes to the other parts of their lives, they do not mind letting others know.
Here are 20 facts we learned about the conjoined twins, Brittany and Abby.
20 They Are Beating The Odds By Surviving Into Adulthood
Conjoined twins are very rare.
In fact, according to ranker.com, it is estimated only one in every 200,000 births result in conjoined twins, which 60% are born deceased, and 1% do not make it past infancy. If they do, they are burdened with different health problems. As of today, there are less than 12 sets of conjoined twins alive.
Abby and Brittany are a rare case not only because they survived birth and infancy, but because they survived into their adult lives with little to no health problems.
19 They Were Born With Three Arms
Anyone can see that Brittany and Abby have two arms, but what many don’t know about them is that when they were born, they originally had three arms.
According to ranker.com, their third arm was basically for show and was more of a nuisance for them than anything else because it made moving their shoulder blades more difficult. It wasn’t long before their parents made the decision to remove the extra arm when they were still young.
18 They Each Control One Half Of Their Body
When it comes to how they move and walk, it is a lot more difficult for these two than most think it is.
According to ranker.com, Brittany controls the left side of her body, while Abby controls the right half. Meaning, the girls must work together to crawl, walk, run, write, even get dressed. In fact, even standing up takes coordination.
17 They Both Have Different Walks
Since each twin controls a separate part of their body, they sometimes are known for having a different style of doing things.
In fact, according to ranker.com, that even includes how they walk, even though they must work together to do it.
Abby has the tendency to walk with the flats of her feet, while Brittany, on the other hand, likes to walk on her tippy toes. The ending result is that Brittany tends to walk with a little more bounce than Abby.
16 They Graduated From Bethel University In 2012
After high school, Abby and Brittany each wanted to go to college with the hopes of pursuing their own degree in a subject they liked. Abby wanted to pursue a math major, while Brittany wanted to pursue an English major.
According to ranker.com though, once the girls both got accepted to Bethel University, they both realized they shared a passion for education and decided to pursue that instead. They both graduated in 2012 with two separate degrees in education.
15 Just Because One Gets Sick, Doesn't Mean The Other Will Too
According to ranker.com though, just because one of them gets sick, doesn’t mean the other will too. For example, Brittany is known for getting the common cold a lot, and has even had pneumonia twice, while Abby has never had any issues.
In fact, being sick is the only time the girls complain about being joined. Once, when they were little, Brittany got very sick and Abby would complain how bored she was having to lay in bed all day.
14 They Can Play The Piano
If it isn’t obvious yet, Brittany and Abby are extremely coordinated. From riding a bike to walking to typing on a keyboard, they really have the whole working together down packed.
According to ranker.com, the girls have an interest in the piano and together are quite good. In fact, doctors are amazed at how good they are, considering everything that goes into playing the piano, let alone having to coordinate with another person.
13 They Are Currently Working As Fifth Grade Teachers
After the girls graduated Bethel University in 2012, they sought out a teaching job that they could do together.
According to ranker.com, they are currently working as fifth-grade teachers and they love it. Having two people teaching one class is most beneficial. While one is concentrating on teaching, the other can keep an eye on the students.
Unfortunately, even though they are two different people, they are only receiving one paycheck right now. They have high hopes that things will change in the future though.
12 Abby Is Taller Than Her Sister
According to ranker.com, Abby, who is on the right, is slightly taller than her sister. While she stands at 5’2”, her sister Brittany is only 4’10”. Due to the high difference, it has caused quite a conundrum when it comes to finding clothing, pants, and even shoes. They also have two different fashion senses.
It is because of this that the girls have a seamstress to help them with their clothes and match their styles to their personalities.
11 They Had To Take Their Driving Test Twice
Brittany and Abby might share a body, but they are two different people and because of this they have two of everything such as passports and IDs.
According to ranker.com, the sisters learned how to drive together, with one controlling one side of the wheel, and the other controlling the pedals and the other side of the wheel. On their 16th birthday, the two had to take two written tests separately before they both got their own driving license.
10 They Were Offered The Chance To Be Separated
A lot of the time, when it comes to conjoined twins, there are options to separate them if it's possible.
According to ranker.com, when it came to the decision of separating Brittany and Abby, their parents decided not to, even though their Doctors were willing to attempt it. Sadly, if they attempted, one of the girls was likely not to survive the surgery. Upon hearing this, the parents flat out refused and instead wanted to give them the best life possible, together.
9 They Don't Like When Strangers Take Photos Of Them
No one likes it when a stranger openly stands there and gawks at them and twins Brittany and Abby are no exception.
According to ranker.com, while in public, the girls must contend with uninvited attention, which sometimes includes unwanted photos from strangers who are void of any decency.
Erin Junkans, a friend of the girls, is always there by their side: "I want to make sure that they're safe and not completely vulnerable," she said. "I am always keeping an eye on what's going on and how they are reacting to the crowds."
8 They Are Actually Unique, Even For Conjoined Twins
Earlier we explained how rare conjoined twins are. Well, in Abby and Brittany case, they are rare even for conjoined twins.
According to directexpose.com, Brittany and Abby are known as dicephalus twins, meaning they share a torso and lower body, but have separate individual heads, an occurrence that only happens in 11% of conjoined twins.
These girls made history when they survived infancy. As of right now, there are only two other surviving dicephalus twins in the world, one in Italy and one in Turkey.
7 Their Anatomy Is Quite Astonishing
Even though the girls share one body, they have their own set of different organs.
According to directexpose.com, even though the girls share one body, they have their own set of different organs. In fact, to be more specific about their anatomy, the girls in total have: three lungs, two hearts, one liver, two gallbladders, two stomachs, one large intestine, one small intestine, two left kidneys, one right kidney, one pelvis, one set of ovaries, one uterus, and one bladder.
6 Their Personalities Are Completely Different
These two brilliant girls might be conjoined, but they have always been raised to develop their own individual personalities.
According to directexpose.com, their mother had this to say about the girls: “When children ask the girls if they have two heads, they say they don’t, but that each has their own head.” Abby, who is taller than her sister, is more outspoken and prefers pink and bright colors, while Brittany is more reserved and a bit of a tomboy.
The girls also have different likes in haircuts, hair colors, shoes, and leggings.
5 They Have Had A Very Supportive Upbringing
When it comes to their home life, Brittany and Abby have a normal Midwestern upbringing.
According to directexpose.com, their mother, Patty, is a registered nurse, while their father, Mike, works as a carpenter and landscaper. They also have two siblings, a younger sister and brother.
Their parents make a great effort to raise them and treat them as individuals. That also means that they get individually disciplined.
4 They First Entered The Spotlight When They Were Six Years Old
Brittany and Abby first entered the spotlight when they were only six years old by appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
According to directexpose.com, their time in the limelight didn’t end there though. After their special on the Oprah show, the girls gained worldwide fame for their unique story. Everyone was captivated by their life.
They then went on to grace the cover of Life magazine and even had specials on the Discovery Channel, TLC, and BBC.
3 Abby Had To Have Surgery To Stop Her Growing
When Brittany and Abby were born, they were not expected to live more than a few hours. They ended up proving everyone wrong though and exceeded all expectations and grew into two beautiful adult girls.
According to directexpose.com though, they have had some hardships growing up. At the age of 12, Brittany stopped growing prematurely, which resulted in Abby having to have surgery to halt her spinal growth.
Both girls also underwent operations for scoliosis and preventative chest surgery to prevent breathing issues later in life.
2 They Had Their Own Documentary, Plus A Show On TLC
As stated before, Brittany and Abby first entered the spotlight when they were 6 years old and appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show
According to directexpose.com, when the girls were 16, they invited TLC into their homes to film a documentary about their life. The footage was later used in their reality show, Abby & Brittany, which aired in 2012 when they were 22.
The show offered a big glimpse into the girls' lives and audiences were fascinated and entertained by how spunky and full of life they were and how they loved to bicker at one another.
1 They Know What The Other Is Thinking
Brittany and Abby have gained the acute ability to understand and anticipate what the other is thinking or feeling with little to no verbal communication.
According to directexpose.com, their own friends are amazed at how close they are. “They finish each other’s sentences; they both know what the other is thinking and what she is going to say. It makes me smile all the time,” their one friend commented.
They can even type an email as one person, rather than two people.
Sources: ranker.com, directexpose.com