TOGETHER FOREVER Incredible lives of conjoined Hensel twins who stunned docs to play sport & learn to drive before wedding amazed world

LIKE most brides, Abby Hensel is beaming with pride on her wedding day, watched by close family.

But, in a more unusual twist, her sister Brittany will be there with her throughout her entire marriage to Josh Bowling.

Abby and Brittany Hensel with Josh Bowling on their big day
Abby and Brittany Hensel with Josh Bowling on their big dayCredit: Facebook/Heidi Bowling
The twins as children in identical necklaces
The twins as children in identical necklacesCredit: TLC
Abby and Brittany defied doctors when they survived by being born with rare condition dicephalic parapagus
Abby and Brittany defied doctors when they survived by being born with rare condition dicephalic parapagusCredit: TLC
The  twins share control of the wheel on the road
The  twins share control of the wheel on the roadCredit: BackGrid

Pictures just released by Abby show her and Brittany in a white wedding dress alongside 33-year-old Josh in a grey suit.

In the TikTok post, which was viewed by millions, the couple gushed that they were “happy” and in “love”.

Abby and Brittany, 34, defied doctors when they survived by being born with rare condition dicephalic parapagus on March 7, 1990, at a hospital in the rural Minnesotan town of New Germany in the US.

Each has their own heart, stomach and pair of lungs, but they share a single body from the waist down.Abby controls their right arm and leg, while Brittany controls the left side.

Parents Patty, a nurse, and Mike, a carpenter, were not even aware they were having twins, let alone conjoined ones, until Patty gave birth.

To separate the babies would have basically meant cutting them right down the middle.

And their parents rejected the idea because of the high risk of further disabilities and the fact both would be wheelchair-bound with one arm and one leg.Patty later said: “From the first time we saw them, we thought they were beautiful.”

The couple opted to limit their exposure to the media to give the girls a chance at a normal life.

But the twins captivated the world when they appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1996, where the then six-year-old girls explained how they approached life together.

Once they made it to their early teens, Abby and Brittany then featured in 2003 documentary Joined For Life.

The twins, who have a younger brother and sister, said in the film: “People have been curious about us since we were born, for obvious reasons.

“But our parents never let us use that as an excuse. We were raised to believe we could do anything we wanted to do.

“The most amazing thing about us is we are like everyone else.”

Viewers then watched in awe as the two youngsters set out to prove they were capable of doing everyday tasks — even if they were shared.

Confident Brittany added: “We’re going to be moms. We just haven’t thought about how being moms is going to work yet.”

A few years after their birth, the twins stunned doctors with their flawless co-ordination, being capable of playing ball sports and bashing keys on the piano.

As they grew, they excelled at bowling, volleyball and cycling, often dressing differently, choosing different coloured leggings and individual shoes.

They still faced hurdles like every other adolescent, developing their own personality traits, which sometimes clashed.

Abigail was reportedly the feisty one, who liked orange juice for breakfast, while Brittany was the joker of the family who preferred milk.

Abby said: “When it comes to decisions, there are compromises we have to make.

“We take turns. We want to work it so each of us is happy and we find a happy medium.

Own personality traits

“We usually bargain with each other, like, ‘If you do this, I’ll give you that’.”

By the time they turned 16, the Hensel twins were about to finish high school and were learning to drive.

Their progress featured in 2008 tell-all follow-up show called Joined For Life: Abby And Brittany Turn 16.

Telling viewers about their driving, Brittany said: “Abby takes over the pedals and the shifter, we both steer, and I take over the blinker and the lights.”

The twins later enrolled at Bethel University, Minnesota, where they initially took different subjects.

However, lecturers warned it would be impossible for them to take twice as many classes and get their homework done.

From the first time we saw them, we thought they were beautiful


So they settled on a teaching degree and eventually returned to their hometown to look for a job educating the next generation.

And when it comes to pay day, they said they would be happy to share a pay packet.

In 2013, Abby told the BBC: “Obviously, right away we understand that we are going to get one salary because we’re doing the job of one person.

“As experience comes in, we’d like to negotiate a little bit, considering we have two degrees and because we are able to give two different perspectives or teach in two different ways.”

Brittany weighed in: “One can be teaching and one can be monitoring and answering questions. So in that sense we can do more than one person.”

By this time, their reality TV ventures had dried up, with 2012 TLC programme Abby & Brittany being the last.

The twins give Josh a hug on their big day
The twins give Josh a hug on their big dayCredit: Facebook/Heidi Bowling
Josh and Abby share a kiss at their wedding
Josh and Abby share a kiss at their weddingCredit: Facebook/Heidi Bowling
Parents Patty and Mike on TV in 2007
Parents Patty and Mike on TV in 2007Credit: WENN

The women were ready for a private life as they looked to settle down and have a family.

Brittany explained: “The whole world doesn’t need to know who we are seeing, what we are doing and when we are going to do it.”

Dad Mike supported them, saying: “They’re good-looking girls. They’re witty. They’ve got everything going for them, except they’re together.”

With such interest in their incredible lives, it is no surprise that Brittany and Abby have had to navigate vicious online trolls.

As a result, Abby chose to keep her romance with Josh in the dark.

On his Twitter/X profile, Josh describes himself as a “Christian, Father, Husband, Veteran, and occasional gamer.”

After the couple decided to go public last week with sweet pictures from their 2021 wedding, they revealed in an online post that there has been a lot of hate surrounding their love story.

Brittany and Josh wrote: “This is a message to all the haters out there.

“If you don’t like what I do, but you watch everything I’m doing, you’re still a fan.”

Unfortunately for the newlyweds, another public scandal surfaced when Josh was hit with a paternity suit by his ex-wife Annica.

According to court records, the pair married in 2010 before splitting in 2019, two years before Josh tied the knot with Abby.

They currently share custody of their eight-year-old daughter Isabella.

We were raised to believe we could do anything we wanted to do. The most amazing thing about us is that we are just like everyone else

However, in 2020 Annica gave birth again to a girl referred to in court documents as “Isabella’s half-sister”.

It is unclear which child the paternity case is about, but a genetic test report was filed on March 7.Nevertheless, if Abby and Brittany’s latest “#Happy#Love#Forever” posts on social media are anything to go by, the twins appear content with their future with Josh.

And as Brittany embarks on her own quest for love, she will always have her sister by her side, no matter what.

What are conjoined twins?

  • Conjoined twins are two babies who are born physically connected to each other.
  • They develop when an early embryo only partially separates to form two individuals.
  • Although two babies develop from this embryo, they remain physically connected – most often at the chest, abdomen or pelvis.
  • Dicephalic parapagus is a rare form of partial twinning that involves having two heads on one torso.
  • The twins have a single body and below the waist, all the organs are shared, including the intestine, genitalia and bladder.
  • Conjoined twins are very rare and occur on average once every 50,000 to 100,000 births.
  • Most dicephalic twins are stillborn, or die soon after birth

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