Abigail And Brittany Hensel’s Case: Separation Surgery

Brittany and Abigail Hensel were both born to parents who told them they wouldn’t live more than a few hours. This is a rare case. They have two hearts, two sets and lungs, and two brains. However, their births were marked by dicephalic parapagus. They were born with both one and two heads. They share all their organs from the waist down. Brittany controls their left side, and Abigail the right. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center conjoined births happen once in every 200,000 births.

First, let’s understand what conjoined-twins are. The Encyclopedia of Diseases and Disorders defines conjoined as identical twins in which the embryos of the twins didn’t separate before the birth. The condition is caused when the embryos fail to split by the twelveth day of the fetus’s developmental. Twins will only be born if the embryos of a fertilized person are able to separate before the 12th day. The interconnection of an infant’s body with the other embryos will become more difficult the longer they take to split. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that 40-60% of conjoined siblings are stillborn. Only 35 % of them survive for more than a day. The survival rate for conjoined siblings is between 5 % to 25 %. Female siblings have three times the chance of being born alive than male counterparts. 70 percent of conjoined siblings are girls. Second, separation surgery is usually performed when the twins turn four months old. Waiting allows the infant’s bodies to grow. According to American Pediatric Surgical Association. There have been only 250 successful separations. This means that one twin survived long enough to be able to survive. Each separation procedure will be different because there are many types of conjoined Twins. Medscape, a leading medical information resource for doctors and medical students, is the best source of medical data for nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals. It shows that 74% conjoined twins have a connection at the abdomen, chest, or both. The surgeon must first break through the skin to separate the organs. After that, he/she must give enough organs to both bodies. After the organs have been cut, the surgeon will stitch them back together. It is dependent on the number of organs and how much they share, whether or not it can be done successfully, as well as how close they are. The decision to separate or not to seperate can lead to many ethical problems. Separating conjoined twins is easy if both of them are healthy. However, it’s not always possible. Separation could pose serious health risks in certain cases. This was the case with twins aged two years old who were connected at their heads. The two girls, who are not being named, shared their kidneys. Both of the twins did not benefit from the separation. Separation could be dangerous for their health. There was a 33% chance that both of them would survive separation surgery.

According to UH Case Medical Center Cleveland, the risky surgery meant that one of the twins would have to undergo a kidney donation or live-long dialysis. The other twin would then be at greater risk for brain damage. The girls could be at high risk of developing kidney disease and cardiovascular disease if they were left together. The parents must decide whether to put their lives at risk by separating the twins. Sometimes parents will have to decide to sacrifice one of their twins that is less likely to survive in order save the other. Understanding the process of creating conjoined siblings, separation surgery, and the ethical concerns that can arise is crucial to understanding their lives. Many conjoined Twins, like Brittany or Abby, lead happy and healthy lives.



Kian Stafford is a 39 year old educational blogger and school teacher. He has been teaching for over 10 years and has worked in a variety of different positions. Kian has an extensive knowledge of education, both online and in-person, and has written extensively on education topics. He is also a member of several education organizations, and has been involved in many educational initiatives.