Conjoined twins  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Conjoined twins are identical twins whose bodies are joined in utero. It is a rare phenomenon; it is estimated to range from 1 in 50,000 births to 1 in 200,000 births, with a somewhat higher incidence in Southwest Asia and Africa.

Contents

Conjoined twins in history

The Moche culture of ancient Peru depicted conjoined twins in their ceramics dating back to 300 CE. Writing around 415CE, St. Augustine of Hippo in his book City of God refers to a man "double in his upper, but single in his lower half--having two heads, two chests, four hands, but one body and two feet like an ordinary man." The earliest known documented case of conjoined twins dates from the year 942, when a pair of conjoined twin brothers from Armenia were brought to Constantinople for medical evaluation.

In Arabia, the twin brothers Hashim ibn Abd Manaf and 'Abd Shams were born with Hashim's leg attached to his twin brother's head. Legend says that their father, Abd Manaf ibn Qusai, separated his conjoined sons with a sword and that some priests believed that the blood that had flowed between them signified wars between their progeny (confrontations did occur between Banu al'Abbas and Banu Ummaya ibn 'Abd Shams in the year 750 AH). The Muslim polymath Abū al-Rayhān al-Bīrūnī described Siamese twins in his book Kitab-al-Saidana.

The English twin sisters Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, who were conjoined at the back (pygopagus), lived from 1100 to 1134 (or 1500 to 1534) and were perhaps the best-known early historical example of conjoined twins. Other early conjoined twins to attain notice were the "Scottish brothers", allegedly of the dicephalus type, essentially two heads sharing the same body (1460–1488, although the dates vary); the pygopagus Helen and Judith of Szőny, Hungary (1701–1723), who enjoyed a brief career in music before being sent to live in a convent; and Rita and Cristina of Parodi of Sardinia, born in 1829. Rita and Cristina were dicephalus tetrabrachius (one body with four arms) twins and although they died at only eight months of age, they gained much attention as a curiosity when their parents exhibited them in Paris.

Several sets of conjoined twins lived during the nineteenth century and made careers for themselves in the performing arts, though none achieved quite the same level of fame and fortune as Chang and Eng. Most notably, Millie and Christine McCoy (or McKoy), pygopagus twins, were born into slavery in North Carolina in 1851. They were sold to a showman, J.P. Smith, at birth, but were soon kidnapped by a rival showman. The kidnapper fled to England but was thwarted because England had already banned slavery. Smith traveled to England to collect the girls and brought with him their mother, Monimia, from whom they had been separated. He and his wife provided the twins with an education and taught them to speak five languages, play music, and sing. For the rest of the century the twins enjoyed a successful career as "The Two-Headed Nightingale" and appeared with the Barnum Circus. In 1912 they died of tuberculosis, 17 hours apart.

Giovanni and Giacomo Tocci, from Locana, Italy, were immortalized in Mark Twain's short story "Those Extraordinary Twins" as fictitious twins Angelo and Luigi. The Toccis, born in 1877, were dicephalus tetrabrachius twins, having one body with two legs, two heads, and four arms. From birth they were forced by their parents to perform and never learned to walk, as each twin controlled one leg (in modern times physical therapy allows twins like the Toccis to learn to walk on their own). They are said to have disliked show business. In 1886, after touring the United States, the twins returned to Europe with their family, where they fell very ill. They are believed to have died around this time, though some sources claim they survived until 1940, living in seclusion in Italy.

List of notable conjoined twins

Names listed in boldface are of twins who have been separated.

Born 19th century and earlier

Born 20th century

Born 21st century

  • Carmen and Lupita Andrade-Solis, born in Mexico in 2000 with Dicephalus Tetrabrachius Dipus (2 heads, 4 arms and 2 legs). Separation was not possible.
  • Carl and Clarence Aguirre, born vertical craniopagus in Manila on 21 April 2002, successfully separated in 2004.<ref>DA Staffenberg and JT Goodrich. Separation of craniopagus conjoined twins: an evolution in thought. Clin Plast Surg. 2005 Jan;32(1):25-34.</ref>
  • Kendra and Maliyah Herrin, ischiopagus twins separated in 2006 at age 4.<ref>Herrintwins.com</ref>
  • Anastasia and Tatiana Dogaru, born outside Rome, Italy on January 13, 2004. As Craniopagus twins, the top of Tatiana's head is attached to the back of Anastasias's head.
  • Lakshmi Tatma (born 2005) was an ischiopagus conjoined twin born in Araria district in the state of Bihar, India. She had four arms and four legs, resulting from a joining at the pelvis with a headless undeveloped parasitic twin.
  • Vani and Veena (Warangal, Andhra Pradesh) craniopagus twins, attached at the back of the skull.
  • Krista and Tatiana Hogan, Canadian twins conjoined at the head. Born October 25, 2006. Share part of their brain and can pass sensory information and thoughts between each other.
  • Trishna and KrishnaTrishna and Krishna from Bangladesh were born in December, 2006, Craniopagus twins, joined on the tops of their skulls, and sharing a small amount of brain tissue. In 2009, they were separated in Melbourne, Australia.
  • Emma and Taylor Bailey, thoracopagus twins born in Arizona, USA in 2006. Joined at the chest and sharing a 7-chamber heart and liver. Both died during a preparatory heart surgery August 10, 2010 at age 3 in Seattle, USA.
  • Rital and Ritaj Gaboura, had been born in Khartoum, Sudan in 2010 before they were separated in London in 2011. They were craniopagus joined by tops of their heads.
  • Unnamed boy twins, born in Nakuru, Kenya in May 2013. Sharing most organs, including heart, liver, two legs, 3 visible arms, and one set of sexual organs. Separate heads. Died after 5 days.
  • Unnamed boy Dicephalic Parapagus twins, born in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India in July 2013 . The boys' heads, nervous systems and backbones are separate. The backbones are joined below the pelvis and they share a rib cage and shoulder girdle. Died after six days.
  • Emmett and Owen Ezell, thoracic-omphalopagus twins, were born on July 15, 2013 and successfully separated on August 24, 2013.
  • Ousainatou and Hasanatou Jallow, thoracopagus twins born in Serrekunda in Gambia on the 6th of August 2008 to one Ramatoulie Jallow. They lived for eight days.
  • Gray whale calves - two conjoined gray whale calves at full-term washed ashore in Baja, California in January of 2014.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Conjoined twins" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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