Siamese twins also referred to as conjoined twins are two babies who are physically attached to one another at birth. This occurs when an embryo only partially splits to generate two individuals. They are most frequently connected at the chest, abdomen or pelvis and share one or more internal organs. For centuries, this phenomenon has amazed people including doctors. Advances in technology today have led to the separation of many conjoined twins depending on how they are attached. Here are some of the most fascinating Siamese twins in history.
1. Chang and Eng Bunker
Chang and Eng Bunker, the original Siamese twins, were born in 1811 in Siam, Bangkok where they were considered medical marvels. They were joined at the torso and had fused livers. At about the age of seventeen, the twins were discovered and began a world tour in what many called “freak shows”. Together, they performed backflips and somersaults, displayed a range of wit or simply responded to the audience’s queries. Their fame brought about the term Siamese twins. After much success they settled in America, married sisters and had twenty-one children.
2. Giacomo and Giovanni Tocci
The Tocci twins, born in 1877 in Italy, were dicephalous, that is, they had separate heads. They had their own completely functional arms, their own hearts and other organs but were connected at the sixth rib. They only possessed one leg each and shared a pelvis. The twin brothers were dependent on others for help as they never learned to walk. They made quite a bit of wealth off their condition in their early years by touring around Europe and the United States. By the age of twenty, they retired and lived in Venice as recluses with their wives.
3. Daisy and Violet Hilton
Born in England in 1908, Daisy and Violet were raised by their guardian, Mary Hilton, after their biological mother decided not to keep them. They were connected at their hips and buttocks and their blood vessels were shared. By the age of three, Mary Hilton took them on tour to Germany and Australia and later, to the United States. Edith, Mary’s daughter, then took over their guardianship after her mom’s passing. The girls were held captive and were forced to learn jazz music. Violet became a saxophonist and Daisy was a violinist. The twins were emancipated in 1931, sued their managers and were awarded a large sum. The sisters continued performing but lost their wealth and had to spend the latter part of their lives working at a grocery store.
4. Radica and Doodica
Radica and Doodica, also referred to as the Orissa sisters, were conjoined twins born in 1889 in India. After being ostracized and banished from the town, the twins were raised by a religious community. In 1893, through the efforts of showman Captain Colman, Radica and Doodica began to perform at shows and exhibitions. They were successfully separated after Doodica contracted tuberculosis but she did not survive the illness. Radica later died in 1903 after developing tuberculosis.
5. Rosa and Josepha Blažek
Rosa and Josepha were born in Bohemia in 1878 and by the age of one, began making appearances at shows and exhibitions. At the age of thirteen, they were informed by doctors in Paris that they could not be separated because they shared vertebrae. Rosa, the outspoken and comical one bore a son in 1910. She is the only conjoined female twin in recorded history to give birth to a live child. The twins passed away in 1922 after going to America.
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