Saturday, 14 March 2015

Conjoined twins - 10 shocking stories

Today we will explore few of the most amazing conjoined twins stories.
What are the conjoined twins?
They are identical twins joined inside the utero, and it is a rare phenomenon with a low survival rate of about 1 in 4, as they are born with abnormalities incompatible with life. The real cause is unknown. The twins can share a heart, the liver or parts of digestive system, they can share more or less part of their bodies, and that obviously can play a part if a separation if feasible or not.

The conjoined twins are called also Siamese twins because of the famous Thai conjoined brothers chang and eng bunker, who lived in Siam which is now Thailand, between 1811 and 1874, and they travelled with the circus for many years. They shared the parts of their bodies including liver, and in today’s times they could have been separated successfully. The term Siamese twins is synonym with conjoined twins because of them.

The oldest siamese are not a modern occurrence, there are ancient proofs of their existence. For example, Peru ancient history depicts conjoined twins in ceramic sculpture dated back to year 300. Another reference is in the writings of Saint Augustine in a book called City of God and her refers to a man with 2 heads, 2 chests, 4 hands and one body.
Another example of historical data are the Biddenden Maids from England, who lived in Kent, around year 1100. They are said they have been joined both shoulders and the hip and lived for 34 years. They left few legends and few speculations behind and it was said that one sister died first and the other 6 hours later. One thing is for sure, their names is preserved though local traditions, cakes, souvenirs and charities

Another examples are Millie and Christine mcKoy, American conjoined twins born into slavery in Carolina in 1851.  They were sold at 10 months of age and used as paid attraction until 1863, when their slave status has ended with the emancipation proclamation. They enjoined a circus career, spoke 5 languages, learned music and singing. They died in 1912 of tuberculosis 17 hours apart.
I am wondering what can a twin feel like when the other is dying first. That is something that sounds horrible.

Giacomo and Giovanni and Battista tocci, are an example of dicephalic conjoined twins, born in Italy in 1875. Dicephalic means 2 headed. Their father was completely shocked when he saw his newborns and he spent a month in a mental institution to recover.
The parents took them to a freak show in Turin where they were examined by few doctors who were very sceptical in regards to twins survival expectancy. They have been seen by many doctors with various opinions.
The twins had 2 heads, 2 necks, two ribcages, 4 arms, and 2 legs. They had 2 hearts, 2 stomachs, 2 sets of lungs but shared intestines, anus and penis. I am not sure how they used the shared organs and who handled what, as they did not feel the other’s body. They married 2 women and it was not clear if they had children and when they died as there are conflicting reports on this regard.

Now, without the intention to sound like I am mocking this serious issue, the questions arises is, how do they go to the toilet? Who uses the hand to direct the penis to pee, and who uses the toilet paper? Do they have like a routine, one time for each?
I am trying to imagine a discussion happening on the toilet between the 2 twins.
One is going: I told you not to eat curry and now I have to suffer! The other goes, yes you did but you enjoyed it as well, so stop complaining!

Coming back to out topic.
Now we are moving to more recent times and we will talk about Vani and Veena from India, conjoined twins who are sharing their skull. These type of twins are called craniopagus and one can find many examples today.
Vani and veena were born in 2003 and they were left by the parents in Children hospital in Hyderbad because they could not afford to look after them. The twins spent  8 years of their life in the hospital looked after the nursing staff, waiting for a separation operation. The doctors could not guarantee their survival and that is why the parents couldn’t not consent to the operation.
The biggest problem was that the girls are sharing blood vessels , despite the fact they had different brains which in theory could allow the operation to proceed.
They are still waiting today.
There are many examples of skull sharing twins and we can add also a happy story of the Gaboura sisters from Sudan. They were 11 months old and they were separated in Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. The parents of the twins are doctors and they approached many institutions for help and finally found a world class of experienced multidisciplinary team of specialists to undertake over 4 operations to separate the children.

Due to this success and others, the Great Ormond Street Hospital has started to treat a number of other conjoined twin cases, including Ruby and Rosie in 2012, immediately after birth. This is an impressive story, as the newborns were conjoined at the abdomen and they have been delivered through a C section at the week 34 of the pregnancy. The team undertook this huge task for such a young lives and fortunately they had success despite the difficulties of such a procedure. The baby girls are at home healthy leading normal lives today.

We are going to finish our video with the last case for today, with the case of Brittany and Abigail Hensel, one of the most covered cases in media in modern times. They are plenty of article and documentaries online today about this amazing story. They decided to share their story to the world when they reached 16th Years of age in 2006. They were born in Minnesota, united states and they have also a younger brother and a  sister.
They are dicephalic parapagus twins, which means they share one body but have separate heads. They give the appearance it is one body with 2 heads, but they have their internal organs doubled up. Each twin controls one part of the body, so one is moving her leg and arm the other controls the other leg and arm. That makes it very difficult to  coordinate movement, but they have managed to learn how to perform all normal tasks including driving.
The girls started to receive a lot of media attention including appearances at Oprah Winffrey show, Discovery channel, ABC TV and many others, including this video on the future famous vupa dymanite show.
The twins graduated with bachelors of arts degree which is amazing if you think about it. They have different personalities, they have individual likes and dislikes.
There are concerns about their health as statistical speaking, these type of conjoined twins rarely makes it into adulthood, but asking them about it, the hopes and dreams about dating or getting married are as normal as anyone’s.

All these stories are amazing in their own individually, and they have channelled a rich mythology over the years.
take the multi headed dragon for example, a typical conjoined twin story of triplets or perhaps more, in a dragon body turned into evil characters. I am pretty sure that despite the evil vibe, these monsters are just examples of Siamese twins and birth defects.