Brittany and Abby Hensel are household names since their time as reality TV stars. Amazingly, it turns out these conjoined twins have come a long way since they first burst onto our screens all those years ago.
Brittany and Abby Hensel made waves as soon as they were born
Brittany and Abby Hensel were the talk of the town as soon as they were born on March 7, 1990. The twins were born in Carver County, Minnesota, but that wasn’t the amazing thing about their birth. It turns out that doctors didn’t even know that Brittany and Abby’s parents were expecting twins as their heads perfectly lined up during the ultrasound.
Little did they know that Brittany and Abby were more than just twins: they are conjoined twins. They were born as dicephalic parapagus twins, meaning they each have their own head while their bodies are joined. Sadly, this was just the start of the problems as doctors worried about Brittany and Abby’s chances of survival due to their condition.
The conjoined twins’ parents were offered the chance to separate the sisters
It turns out that the chance of having conjoined twins is an extremely rare condition that affects around one in 189,000 babies. That wasn’t all. Welcoming dicephalic parapagus twins make up just 11% of those births, meaning doctors didn’t know too much about the condition when the pair were born. This also left Brittany and Abby’s parents with some tough decisions to make about the future.
They were offered the chance to try and separate the conjoined twins. However, there was a chance that one or both of them wouldn’t survive. Eventually, they decided to forgo surgery as they worried about the quality of life for the girls, especially if one of them lost their lives as a result. Thankfully, Brittany and Abby eventually learned how to coordinate.
Brittany and Abby share many organs and have many of their own
Amazingly, Brittany and Abby have an impressive inner system as doctors learned what they share in their bodies and what they have of their own. Doctors immediately saw the twins both have their own heads and upper bodies, meaning they have two spinal cords. However, they only have two arms and one rib cage to protect their vital organs, even though they have four lungs and two hearts with a shared circulatory system.
Things seem to merge the further they get down as the conjoined twins have two stomachs with one liver, one intestine, and one bladder. Brittany and Abby also have one pelvis with one pair of legs between them, meaning they had to learn how to coordinate every movement.
Several people wonder if Brittany and Abby can feel each other’s pain
One thing that many people have wondered over the years is if Brittany and Abby feel what the other does. After all, they share one body, but they have many organs of their own. It turns out that the conjoined twins do feel some things that the other experiences, especially when it comes to pain or discomfort.
Brittany and Abby have confessed that when one of them has something like stomach pains, the same happens for the one on the other side. However, that isn’t always the case. The sisters have admitted that Abby can only feel pain on the left half of her body, while Brittany can only feel anything on the right half of hers. It certainly baffles many people.
The conjoined twins admit they don’t always feel the same temperature
It’s not just pain and feelings that have confused many people over the years. Sharing one body doesn’t mean that Brittany and Abby always feel the same temperature as the twins have confessed that they often feel different throughout the day, just as they would if they weren’t conjoined. The sisters opened up about it all during their reality show ‘Abby and Brittany.
Here, Brittany confessed it’s like having a line down the middle of their body as she often feels hot and sweaty throughout the day. Abby? She usually feels “totally fine” and says that she’s often cool throughout the day. Of course, this can sometimes make it interesting when the twins have to get dressed for the day or when it comes to the aircon.
Brittany and Abby have learned how to do most things as conjoined twins
One of the many things that Brittany and Abby have had to learn how to do is coordinate both halves of their body to work together. Sure, this was probably interesting when they were younger and fell out with each other like most other siblings, but thankfully, the twins have come a long way over the years.
Brittany and Abby have both learned how to cross their arms and legs together and have even mastered crawling and walking while they only have control of one half of their body. As they continued to age, Brittany and Abby also learned how to brush their hair, run, and swim as a team. It seems that nothing can hold the twins back now.
The twins are determined that nothing will hold them back
Believe it or not, but Brittany and Abby learned how to drive – and passed their driving test. The conjoined twins wanted to prove they can do anything with their sister by their side, even when it came to getting behind the wheel of a car. However, there was a twist. It turned out that both Brittany and Abby needed to get their own driver’s license.
They both passed the written and practical tests as they had to learn how to control each part of the car. Brittany now controls things on the left, such as the blinker, while Abby controls the gas and brakes. The steering? That’s down to the pair of them. They just have to agree where they’re going.
Choosing outfits has often caused some problems between Brittany and Abby
Have you ever found yourself wondering what it’s like to have someone by your side your entire life? Not just a best friend or sibling, but someone who is physically joined to you? Brittany and Abby don’t have to wonder, as the conjoined twins know nothing other than being so close to their twin. That doesn’t mean things have always been easy for the sisters.
In 2013, Brittany and Abby told the BBC that they don’t always want to wear the same look. While Brittany prefers “neutrals and pearls and stuff like that,” Abby prefers something “more fun and bright and colorful.” It might be no surprise that their differing outfit opinions have caused a few fallouts throughout the years.
There are plenty of times that Brittany and Abby showcase they are individuals
Thankfully, Brittany and Abby have come up with some ways to make sure they’re both happy with their choice of outfits. The twins often use a seamstress to help customize each outfit to fit. Sometimes, they simply have the neckline extended so that both sisters can fit their head out the top. Other times? The seamstress has to get a little creative.
Apparently, they sometimes have two tops stitched together with a join in the middle to help Brittany and Abby express their individuality. It turns out that choosing clothes isn’t the only time the sisters want to showcase their own identities, as they revealed in their interview with the BBC that Abby is the more “outspoken” of the two.
Traveling is something that’s split opinions between the twins
Even though the pair are both different individuals, some of their personality traits have rubbed off on one another. Abby has always been known as the more confident of the twins, and she has helped Brittany to come out of her shell in several ways. Apparently, Brittany is now more comfortable wearing bright colors than the muted tones she’s donned for so many years.
Things get shaken up once again when the world learns about who is the one that wants to go out exploring compared to who wants to stay at home. The twins admit that Brittany likes to explore the world, while Abby is described as more of a “homebody.” Hopefully, they’ll both find a way to compromise?
Brittany and Abby have several differences when it comes to their passions
The world has learned a lot about Brittany and Abby thanks to their reality show and appearances on various social media. One of the many things that fans of the conjoined twins have learned is that Brittany and Abby couldn’t be more different from one another in all aspects of their lives. It turns out they both have alternate passions – and fears.
For example, Brittany is known to have a fear of heights, while Abby has no problem with them. Abby also prefers the sciences over the arts that dominate Brittany’s passions. Although they also share many organs, it seems the twins also react differently to certain things. They have admitted that Abby can drink coffee without reacting. Brittany? She says that her heart starts to race.
The twins have learned how to ensure they both get what they want from life
Being two different people doesn’t mean Brittany and Abby have struggled to make lives for themselves. Plenty of their everyday tasks have been documented throughout the years, and the twins have even shared how they work to make sure they both get what they want from life. Thankfully, life has been pretty normal for these conjoined twins.
Some of the many things they’ve learned to compromise over include their jobs, studies, and whenever they want to hang out with their friends. Of course, this does mean the pair has to think about the other and make sure they both want to do something before committing. The result? It doesn’t seem that Brittany or Abby have missed out on anything they want to experience over the years.
Brittany and Abby’s dating lives will forever remain a secret from the world
Being so open with the world doesn’t mean that Brittany and Abby want to share every aspect of their lives. If there’s one thing the twins have confessed they will never open up about, it’s their dating lives – even though they get asked about their relationships all the time. Brittany and Abby opened up about it all in 2012 when the twins spoke to the Daily Mirror.
Here, Brittany confessed they don’t think “The whole world” needs to know “who we are seeing, what we are doing and when we are going to do it.” Amazingly, the sisters have stuck to their word as no one knows if either of them is in a relationship or has anyone in their lives.
The twins love to talk about their travels with friends
Not opening up about their relationships doesn’t mean that everything’s off the cards. It turns out that Brittany and Abby have no issues with talking about their friendships as they love to show off their adventures with the rest of the world. Thankfully, being conjoined twins hasn’t held the sisters back when it comes to traveling.
It appears the twins need their own passports to travel. However, Brittany and Abby have confessed they both share a seat when they fly on an airplane. Sadly, things haven’t always been simple for the pair. Both Brittany and Abby admit they have received some unwanted attention from others as they go about their travels. Still, they don’t want to let people staring and talking get in their way.
Some people make Brittany and Abby feel uncomfortable when they’re out and about
One of the biggest hurdles that Brittany and Abby have to deal with is the fact that people often stop and stare as they go about their daily lives. This means they always have to be on the lookout for people who might be trying to take secret photos or talking about the twins behind their back.
Thankfully, that’s where Brittany and Abby’s friends and family usually step in. The sisters say that everyone is always looking for strangers who make them feel uncomfortable and will step in when someone pushes things too far. Sure, they might be conjoined twins, but Brittany and Abby don’t want to feel like a spectacle. They merely want to be treated like everyone else in the world.
Brittany and Abby are surrounded by friends who have their best interests
Thankfully, it turns out that Brittany and Abby have a host of friends who are always looking out for their best interests. Erin Junkans is one on the list. She told the BBC that she always wants to “make sure that they’re safe and that they’re not completely exposed.” Sometimes, this means keeping an eye on everyone in the crowd.
Erin continued to explain that if she sees someone trying to get a snap, then she finds herself “standing in the way of pictures.” She even added that she spends most of her time” keeping an eye on what’s going on and just how the girls are reacting to the crowds.” Erin also knows the twins can handle themselves in any situation.
The conjoined twins have a knack for not letting others keep them down
If there is one thing that’s always amazed Erin about Brittany and Abby, it’s their “ability to just shake it off.” Erin told the BBC that the twins sometimes feel overwhelmed in a situation. If this happens, they know “we just need to get away from the area for a little bit.” It turns out that it’s usually other people that make the twins feel uncomfortable, especially if they stare or start to take pictures.
Although the twins might need some time away from a space to deal with the feelings, Erin explained that they always return and “[keep] seeing what we are there to see.” Thankfully, Brittany and Abby’s mom, Patty, always wanted her daughters to thrive and never hide.
Patty always wanted her daughters to be the best they could be
Most parents will agree that they only want the best for their children. So what happens when a mom welcomes conjoined twins into the world? It can be easy to think that parents will go above and beyond to protect their little ones from everyone else. That’s not all. Patty was also left with some life-changing decisions to make as soon as Brittany and Abby were born.
To start, she needed to decide if she would have them separated or if they would stay as conjoined twins. Over the years, Patty has learned how to let her daughters flourish. She told the BBC that she just wants them “to be successful and to be happy and healthy.” Patty isn’t alone.
Brittany and Abby have been in the public eye for many years
Appearing in their own reality show wasn’t the first time that Brittany and Abby Hensel hit the headlines. It turns out that the conjoined twins have turned heads since the moment they entered the world and have got plenty of attention throughout their lives. Their first time on TV came when they were just six years old as Brittany and Abby were invited onto ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’
This gave the girls a chance to tell the rest of the world what their upbringing was like with someone so close by their side. As if that wasn’t enough already, Brittany and Abby also appeared on the cover of Life magazine around the same time – a huge opportunity for anyone, let alone two youngsters.
Taking part in various shows was all for a good reason
Things went from strength to strength for Brittany and Abby as the conjoined twins wanted to show the world what it’s like to be a part of their lives. In 2003, seven years after their time with Oprah, the sisters appeared in the documentary ‘Joined for Life.’ The show was such a success that it landed Brittany and Abby their own reality show many years later.
During their interview with the BBC, Brittany confessed they decided to take part in all of the shows “because it’s fun.” The twins also wanted to show the world their “normal day-to-day life of who we are and what we do.” Brittany and Abby were able to do just that, as their time on the small screen has earned them plenty of fans.
Brittany and Abby weren’t scared by letting people into their lives
Starting a new reality show could be enough to see many of us get cold feet. Are we ready for the world to know all about our personal lives? Will things be different now the public has an access-all-areas pass to our private world? Although it could be enough to see many of us run for the hills, it was something Brittany and Abby were ready to find out firsthand.
Abby told the BBC that the sisters wanted the world to see “they do normal things, and they have great friends, and they’re always doing something.” Being conjoined twins doesn’t mean they have been held back or restricted in their lives. Thankfully, the world has seen all of this and more.
The conjoined twins had some tough decisions to make about their careers
‘Abby and Brittany’ followed some major moments in the twins’ lives as they finished college and started to work toward carving their own careers. This meant that it was time for the sisters to head off to Bethel University to earn their degrees, but how would this work? After all, they can only be in one place at once, so they had to decide on what they wanted to learn – and where.
Thankfully, they both wanted the same thing from life as the twins settled on a career in education. To start, Brittany and Abby said they wanted to work on different disciplines. However, they quickly realized this would be too complicated and settled for a job in elementary schools instead.
Brittany and Abby had a big announcement to make in 2012
One of the most significant things to come from the show was the fact that Brittany and Abby were looking for a job. This wasn’t just their first step toward making a career for themselves, but it was also another obstacle they would have to learn to overcome with their twin by their side. In 2012, the sisters had a big announcement to make. They had a job!
Thankfully, it seemed they couldn’t be happier with the news as Brittany and Abby held one another’s hand and finished the other’s sentences as they opened up about their new role. If there’s one thing that many college graduates fear, it’s not finding work after working so hard toward a degree. This wasn’t something the twins had to overcome.
The part-time teaching job gave Brittany and Abby a foot in the door
Although they once thought about focusing on different areas of teaching, Brittany and Abby eventually settled on the idea of working in an elementary school. More specifically, the twins agreed they would focus on fourth and fifth-grade math, meaning they would have two classes to control in their new job. That was just the beginning of their news.
It turned out that the twins settled on a part-time job for their first career – and there were plenty of reasons. Brittany and Abby used their show to explain that working part-time gave them a way to “[transition] into the teaching world.” After all, it was a new experience for everyone involved, including the teachers at Brittany and Abby’s brand new school.
Brittany and Abby didn’t always agree on what they wanted to do for work
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Brittany and Abby once had very different ideas about what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives? The world learned all about their childhood when Patty opened up about what it was like to raise conjoined twins. During an episode of the show, Patty confessed she was extremely proud to see her girls start careers for themselves.
However, things might not have been so simple if they followed the lives they originally had planned for themselves. Patty confessed that when the twins were five years old. One of them wanted to be a dentist, while the other wanted to be a pilot. Thankfully, “That was short-lived,” as it could have made things interesting.
Patty believes that Brittany and Abby were always destined to be teachers
Although the sisters wanted to enjoy different careers in their younger years, Patty believes that Brittany and Abby were always destined to become teachers. It all started when their mom realized, “They’ve just always had a knack with kids.” That wasn’t the only thing that made Patty spot the twins should embark on a career with children.
She even added that “kids have always been kind of drawn to them.” Patty believes that a lot of it is down to “curiosity.” However, “once their simple questions are answered,” children still seem to be “drawn to Ab and Brit.” Knowing how to keep little ones engaged and interested are two major skills when it comes to being a teacher, and they’re things that have always come naturally to the twins.
The twins beat hundreds of applicants to the teaching role
Have you ever had one of those moments in your life when it feels like something was meant to be? It could be meeting a certain someone in your life, landing your dream job, or moving to a new city to start a new chapter in life. Whatever the case, there have often been times that it feels like the universe had a plan for us.
That seemed to be the situation when Brittany and Abby applied for their new job. Even their new boss, Mr. Good – the principal at the school – noticed there was something special about the conjoined twins. It turns out that 175 people applied for the teaching role before the sisters were offered the final job.
Things were an instant hit in Brittany and Abby’s interview
It looked as though Mr. Good was so impressed with the twins that he wanted to open up about it all during an episode of ‘Abby and Brittany.’ Here, the principal confessed that a lot went down behind the scenes of the interview with Brittany and Abby. Apparently, it started like any other interview as they went through all the usual questions and got to know one another.
However, something changed as soon as Mr. Good showed the twins out of the room. He claimed that as soon as he got back into the room and “before I even sat back down,” everyone was keen to share their thoughts. Mr. Good claims that someone told him to “Run after them, hire them, give them the job.”
The school was determined to make things as easy as possible for the twins
Just because things seemed to be working out for the twins and the school didn’t mean that the transition would be easy for anyone involved. In fact, Mr. Good added in his interview with the show that working with conjoined twins was “uncharted territory” for the school. This merely meant the school wanted to work even hard to help the sisters transition into their new job.
Mr. Good added that he immediately called human resources to determine what he needed to do to make things work. The department explained that Brittany and Abby needed to sign their own contracts, while the sisters decided they would split their salary in half to ensure that things were fair. Apparently, they always knew they would have to make this sacrifice.
Being conjoined twins meant Brittany and Abby knew there would be sacrifices
Being so close and making all their major decisions together meant that Brittany and Abby Hensel had plenty of time to discuss how they would make things work, even when it came to their job. Being conjoined twins meant the pair would have to work the same career as they couldn’t work two different places at once.
However, during an episode of the show, Abby confessed that they always knew they would “get one salary because we’re doing the job of one person.” Thankfully, Brittany said there were plenty of positives in their situation as they knew they could do two jobs at once. In fact, she thinks, “One can be teaching, and one can be monitoring and answering questions.”
Abby is hopeful that their situation could earn them more money in the future
What could be better than having one expert on a subject? Having two, of course. Even though the school was about to pay for one teacher, they were set to get two incredibly talented individuals who knew how to bring the classroom to life. Brittany added that the twins “can do more than one person,” even if they are in the same place at once.
Now the sisters hope they might be able “to negotiate a little bit” as they continue to earn experience. After all, Abby believes that they “have two degrees,” and they are able “to give two different perspectives or teach in two different ways.” It seems that Abby might have a point as they did both go through their own college classes.
Mr. Good had plenty of plans in place for Brittany and Abby
It looked as though Brittany and Abby Hensel were in good hands – literally. Mr. Good was determined to make things as easy as possible for the twins and everyone else at the school to ensure that everyone was comfortable and settled in their new role. During his time on the girls’ reality show, Mr. Good opened up about how he was planning on introducing the teachers.
The principal confessed they “sent out letters” to everyone to let them know about the new faces at the school. Mr. Good. also planned on introducing the sisters “again during open house.” If there is one thing everyone wanted, it was to make sure the school was being as inclusive and helpful as possible for everyone involved.
The principal was confident that Brittany and Abby would fit in with ease
If there is one thing that many people have learned, it’s that Brittany and Abby are some of the kindest people they have ever met. That’s not all. The twins also want to show the world that they won’t let anything hold them back, even when it feels like the world is against them.
Brittany and Abby knew that working at the school was a huge step in the right direction. Mr. Good was also excited about the idea of having the conjoined twins join the school as he knew that anyone who “sits with these exceptional young women” would quickly learn just how great they are. All Brittany and Abby needed to do was get started at their new job.
Brittany and Abby were great role models for everyone at the school
Another reason that Mr. Good was so keen to have Brittany and Abby join the school was thanks to the sheer determination they’ve shown throughout their lives. Apparently, the principal was impressed with their attitudes and thought the conjoined twins could be great role models for all of their students.
After all, Mr. Good isn’t alone when he thinks there’s nothing “they won’t try or something they couldn’t be able to do if they really wanted to.” Bringing that to children, “especially kids who might be struggling,” was something “very special” to Mr. Good. Thankfully, his goals seemed to pay off as the children fell in love with Brittany and Abby as soon as they started teaching their math classes.
The future looks bright for Brittany and Abby Hensel
Landing the new job was just the start for Brittany and Abby, as the conjoined twins have continued to go from strength to strength throughout the years. In fact, the pair have even come with their own way to make sure the children have all their questions answered and don’t get distracted throughout lessons.
According to Living101, the sisters start each class with an open forum to allow everyone to ask any questions they might have. From there, everyone should be free to focus on the lesson at hand. In 2017, InTouch Weekly had even more to add to the story as the publication announced Brittany and Abby were working as fifth-grade teachers. It certainly seems that nothing will hold this pair back.
However, as of today, we can confirm that Abby and Brittany are elementary school teachers in New Brighton, Minn. The twins teach fourth and fifth grade with a concentration in math, and their students absolutely adore them.Where are conjoined twins Abby and Brittany now? ›
As of now, the 31-year-olds live a quiet life in their hometown. It was reported that they work as teachers at a school. Their school principal was quoted saying both Abby and Brittany are a great source of inspiration to young children.Can the Hensel twins have a baby? ›
Of all the female conjoined twin sets either documented by medical authorities or referenced in ancient literary sources, in only one case were pregnancy and delivery successfully achieved by the conjoined twins themselves.How is Abby and Brittany doing? ›
What do Abby and Brittany do today? Abby and Brittany studied education at Bethel University and today, they share a fifth grade classroom in a public school district just an hour from their hometown. Despite the attention they got when they were younger, the ladies live extremely low-profile lives today.What happens when one of the Hensel twins dies? ›
According to Dr. Eric Stauch, when the heart of one of the twins stops, they will lose blood into the living twin. There are only hours to save the living twin with surgery, meaning they would need to be in the hospital prior to the loss with a team of surgeons ready to go.Why can't Abby and Brittany be separated? ›
In general, if conjoined twins share a heart or if their brains are connected, they cannot be separated. In the case of Brittany and Abby, their parents were unaware they were having twins until they were born!Did the conjoined twins get married? ›
The best example of this would probably be the story of Chang and Eng Bunker, the “Siamese Twins,” so called because they were from Siam (now Thailand). Chang and Eng were joined by just a bit of liver and some skin. One April day in 1843, Chang married Adelaide Yates, while brother Eng married sister Sallie Yates.How long do conjoined twins live? ›
This number could be higher, but most of these pregnancies result in miscarriages and still births; only 18% of all conjoined infants survive (2), and approximately 35% of live births die within the first 24 hours, and only 18% of all conjoined twins survive longer than 24 hours.Do Abby and Brittany have two stomachs? ›
The Hensel twins, Abby and Brittany, were born in March, 1990. They are called dicephalus conjoined twins. They have separate hearts and stomachs, one pair of arms and one pair of legs. Their spines join at the pelvis and they have only one set of organs from the waist down.What happens if a conjoined twin gets pregnant? ›
Pregnancy with conjoined twins is complex and greatly increases the risk of serious complications. Conjoined babies require surgical delivery by cesarean section (C-section). As with twins, conjoined babies are likely to be born prematurely, and one or both could be stillborn or die shortly after birth.
In the United States, conjoined twins occur in 1 per 33,000-165,000 births and 1 per 200,000 live births. About 40% to 60% of conjoined twins are stillborn. Living conjoined twins are more likely to be female, with a female-to-male ratio of 3:1 or greater among conjoined twins.Did the conjoined twins get separated? ›
Conjoined twins separated with the help of virtual reality - BBC NewsWhat organs do Abby and Brittany share? ›
Abby and Brittany are unique among conjoined twins. Each has her own head, but they share most everything else: torso, pelvis, legs, internal organs, and reproductive organs. However, each girl has her own spine, lungs, and stomach. Basically, Abby and Brittany have two separate bodies that join at the ribcage.How many conjoined twins are alive today? ›
There are possibly fewer than 12 adult pairs of conjoined twins across the world today.Are any conjoined twins married? ›
The best example of this would probably be the story of Chang and Eng Bunker, the “Siamese Twins,” so called because they were from Siam (now Thailand). Chang and Eng were joined by just a bit of liver and some skin. One April day in 1843, Chang married Adelaide Yates, while brother Eng married sister Sallie Yates.Did the conjoined twins get separated? ›
Conjoined twins separated with the help of virtual reality - BBC NewsHow many conjoined twins are alive today? ›
There are possibly fewer than 12 adult pairs of conjoined twins across the world today.Are the conjoined twins still alive? ›
Since Ronnie and Donnie Galyon passed in 2020, Lori and George Schappell are now the oldest living conjoined twins in the world.