According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, one in every 200,000 twin births worldwide are conjoined, but 40 to 60 percent are stillborn and 35 percent of the surviving babies only live a day. This makes conjoined twins living their lives together a rare anomaly.
Those who do survive have amazing stories to share, that will inspire us all. Take a look at these famous conjoined twins that are truly an inspiration to us all.
These girls are among the most famous twins born in the United States. Their lives were featured o TLC and they have spent most of their lives in the public eye showing the world what it was like to take on daily tasks as conjoined twins.
Born in 1990, Abby and Brittany share a body but have two separate heads and brains. They are two separate people in spite of sharing much of their physical body.
We watched Abby and Brittany grow up and go to school, celebrate their birthdays and even get their driver's licence.
The twins are now teaching at Mounds View elementary school after graduating from Bethel University.
After finding out at their 11 week ultrasound that their twins were conjoined, Heather and her husband Riley took on the added task of not only being parents to twins but dealing with the medical complications of their babies being conjoined at the head.
The twins were delivered prematurely by cesarean section and weighed just 2 pounds and 1 ounce each. That's when doctors took on the task of coming up a plan to separate the babies.
Now at only 5 months after their surgery the girls, who are 15 months old, are able to live their lives independently.
Born joined at the waist, these girls spent the first two years of their lives sharing a bladder, liver and parts of their digestive system.
After a 17-hour surgery they were successfully separated and are now living their lives as two separate people.
Neither girl seems to have trouble adjusting," said Packard Children's psychiatrist Michelle Goldsmith, MD, who has worked with the toddlers. "They're both rolling with what's going on very well."
Growing up in Moscow, Masha and Dasha were born in 1950 and experienced more challenges than their physical attachment. While they were born with two heads, two torsos, two arms and one leg each, the twins were taken from their mother at birth and spent their lives in institutions run by the state.
The conjoined twins shared the same blood system but had separate nervous systems, which peaked the interest of scientists who wanted to know more about those areas of the body.
Tests were conducted on the twins for 12 years to see how environmental changes would affect the other.
In 1988 their story was made public and they were moved into a place with better living conditions
In the late nineties, a letter from a British surgeon who specialized in separating conjoined twins arrived with an offer to operate on them.
"Dasha glanced across at Masha, her eyes full of hope, but Masha, looking straight ahead, immediately said "nyet". And that, as Dasha would say, was that," a journalist said.
The twins passed away in April 2013 at the age of 53 when Masha suffered a heart attack. The toxins were then transferred to her sister Dasha, which ended up killing her 17 hours later.
At the time of their death, they were the oldest living conjoined twins in the wold.
Donnie and Ronnie Galyon
Donnie and Ronnie currently hold the Guinness world record for the oldest living conjoined twins.
The twins were born in Ohio, in 1951, and they are joined from the groin to the sternum.
Abandoned by their mother, they were raised by their father and stepmother. They toured around the United States and Latin America as a side show act for more than 30 years to make enough money to support their family.
They still continue to make television appearances and live in their home state.
Krista and Tatiana Hogan
Born in Vancouver, Canada, Krista and Tatiana weren't supposed to survive infancy.
The were joined at the heads and share a thalamus, which connects their brain steams enabling the two to share brain signals, emotions and thoughts. Research has also confirmed that the two share visual cortex signals and can actually experience what the other twin is seeing.
In spite of their grim prognosis, they did more than survive. They just celebrated their eleventh birthday and learned how to swim.
They have a myriad of health issues including Type 1 diabetes and epilepsy, but the twins go to school for a few hours each day.
Lori and George Schappell
Born in 1961 conjoined at the head, Lori and George (formally named Dori), share 30 percent of their brain matter.
Growing up in an institution in Pennsylvania, they were released in their 20s to pursue their dreams.
“We had to prove we could live on our own and we were finally allowed to be independent. Now we have a two-bedroom flat and alternate the nights we sleep in each other’s rooms," Lori said. “My room is much more girly and reflects my personality, while George’s has all his music posters.”
Under the stage name Reba Schappell, George performed internationally singing country music, winning an L.A. Music Award for Best New Country Artist.
Dori prefers a quieter life, and has a job doing laundry at a hospital in order to work around George's music schedule.
In 2006, George was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and declared a year later that he identifies as male and changed his name.