reports the show "Abby and Brittany"
premieres on TLC on August 28.
According to NY Daily News
, the twins are dicephalic parapagus
twins. The Daily Mail
reports that the Hensel twins are believed to be one of the few in history to survive infancy.
Statistics say only one set of twins in every 40,000 are born conjoined and only 1 percent survive beyond the first year.
According to the Daily Mail
"The Hensel girls are the rarest form of conjoined twins... they have two spines (which join at the pelvis), two hearts, two oesophagi, two stomachs, three kidneys, two gall bladders, four lungs (two of which are joined), one liver, one ribcage, a shared circulatory system and partially shared nervous systems.
"From the waist down, all organs, including the intestine, bladder and reproductive organs, are shared.
"...Brittany - the left twin - can't feel anything on the right side of the body and Abigail - the right twin - can't feel anything on her left, instinctively their limbs move as if co-ordinated by one person, even when typing e-mails on the computer."
The Hensel twins were born on March 1, 1990 in Minnesota to Patty, a registered nurse, and Mike, a carpenter and landscaper. When they were born, doctors predicted they would die within hours of birth, but they grew up into teenagers and now they are adults at 22.
Their mother Patty, had no idea she was carrying twins until they were born. She said: "The pediatrician said my babies were together but they had two heads. It was blunt, but completely accurate. From the first time we saw them, we thought they were beautiful. I kissed Abigail and then Brittany and gave them a hug. It's like that every time I pick them up from school, two kisses and one hug for the most beautiful children in the world."
They were raised in a small midwestern farming community. They attended a private school n the community and were popular with their friends.
According to the Daily Mail
, the twins have remained in good health in spite of a number of operations. Brittany is more susceptible to colds and has twice suffered pneumonia. They had a third underdeveloped arm removed when they were infants, a surgery to correct scoliosis (curvature of the spine) at 12 and a chest expansion to prevent breathing difficulties.
The girls first came to public attention in 1996 when they appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and on the cover of Life Magazine. They have also featured in Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, and Time Magazine.
In the preview of their new reality show, the twins appear in graduation caps and gowns, they are shown sunbathing, riding a bike and even driving a car.
A friend of the twins commented: “Everywhere they go, they get the stares. I don’t know how they do that every day.”
What captivates everyone about them is that they have distinct personalities. Abigail is described as "feisty and stubborn and likes orange juice for breakfast," while Brittany "will only touch milk."
Their mother Patty said: "That's what we have encouraged them to do, to develop their own individuality as much as possible."
The Daily Mail
reports they buy two seats when they go to the cinema, they have separate meals, separate birthday cakes, and if one twin misbehaves only the responsible party is scolded even if the other was dragged to the "crime scene" involuntarily.
The girls have different tastes in food, drink and clothes. They eat with separate plates but one holds the fork while the other the knife. They take turns to feed each other.
The two get on very well in spite of the fact that they live so close and seldom quarrel even though Abigail tends to dominance.
They enjoy bowling, volleyball, cycling, softball and swimming.
They passed driving test at 16, an achievement the Daily Mail
describes as a "mind-boggling feat of teamwork with each twin using one arm to control the steering wheel."
According to The Huffington Post
, "each twin is responsible for one side of the body, which means they have learned to coordinate movements subconsciously."
Their mother commented at the time: "I don't know what would happen if they got pulled over for speeding. Would they each get a ticket or just Abby because it's her foot on the accelerator?"
What appears the most delicate issue in their maturity is their love life. How will they manage given the impossibility of privacy for either. They both share reproductive organs. Will they have to marry one man? The Daily Mail
reports that about three years ago there were rumors that Brittany was engaged.
There is no known medical reason why they shouldn't be able to have babies and both have expressed interest in raising children.