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The History of Conjoined Twins (1950-1969)
Compiled by Craig Sanders, Twinstuff.Com

The rarest type of conjoined twins, Dicephales tetrabrachius dipus (two heads, four arms and two legs) are born in Russia on January 4, 1950--Masha and Dasha Krivoshyapovy. Actually, Masha and Dasha share a vestigal (non-functioning) third leg. They received quite a bit of international publicity as children but have been out of the public limelight for quite some time now although a recent picture of the two was featured in the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records (shown below). They were the oldest surviving conjoined (non-separated) twins in the world at the beginning of the year 2003, but some unverified media accounts indicate that both twins passed away in April, 2003.

Masha and Dasha

The United States' oldest surviving non-separated conjoined twins, Ronnie and Donnie Galyon are born on October 28, 1952 in Dayton, Ohio. Long-time sideshow performers, they are now retired from show business but still occasionally appear on TV. They were profiled on the Jerry Springer Show on April 21, 1997 and were also interviewed on the 1998 Discovery Channel documentary, 'Joined at Birth'.

One of the earliest 20th century examples of a successful separation of conjoined twins is performed on March 29, 1955 as Dr. Dragstedt at the University of Chicago performs surgery on Prisna and Napit Atkinson, who were born in Thailand in May, 1953. We heard from the Atkinson Twins' niece, who reported to us in an email that her aunts are successful and doing well and that both are married and live in the United States.

Another less successful separation of conjoined twins joined at the head were the Brodie Twins, who were separated in 1952. One twin, Roger, died a month after the surgery, while the other brother Rodney Dee survived the operation, only to die at age 11 on May 28, 1963.

A pair of four-armed dicephalus twins are born near Petersburg, Indiana in the United States on December 12, 1953 with the birth of twins Danny Kaye and Donald Ray Hartley. Despite cardiac problems with the twins, they were improving and allowed to go home with their parents. A Life Magazine article profiled the family, but tragically the twins died at four months due to acute cardiac dilatation. As you can see in the pictures below, the twins had two spines united to a single pelvis.

Daniel Kaye and Donald Ray Hartley (Life Magazine, 1953)X-Ray of the Hartley Twins

An extremely rare case of conjoined male-female twins is born in 1957 as reported in the 1988 book Twinning and Twins. It is suspected that pseudohermaphroditism, a condition where external genitals resemble that of the opposite sex, exists in one of the twins.

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia performs its first separation in 1957, separating Pamela and Patricia Schatz joined at the buttocks. One of the twins, Pamela, dies at age 9 following open-heart surgery; the other, Patricia, survives the separation and is now married.

Another successful separation is performed in the state of Oregon as Denett and Jeanett Stubblefield from Parma, Idaho (born June 29, 1959) are separated at Doernbecher Hospital in Portland on October 18, 1959. The two girls were born joined at the abdomen and chest. Tragically, Jeanett dies of pneumonia six months after the surgery. We have an update on the Stubblefield Family in our Twin Talk area.

On September 11, 1961 conjoined twin sisters Karen and Kate Yong are born in Kandang Kerbau Hospital in Singapore. Joined at the chest and abdomen, the twins were separated in surgery conducted at Singapore General Hospital on December 11, 1961, but tragically Kate died of complications arising from the lack of skin on December 12, surviving for just 15 hours following the surgery. Karen Yong is still alive at age 42 as of this writing (October, 2003). Here's a little more on these twins.

A week later, on September 18, 1961 conjoined twin sisters Lori and Reba (Dori) Schappell are born in Reading, Pennsylvania. The sisters have been featured on numerous TV shows and are believed to be the only set of adult living conjoined twins in the United States who are joined at the head. Reba, who has a musical career and who received a L.A. Music Award in 1997 for best new country artist, has several medical conditions that require her to to sit in a special stool which is steered by her sister. They live independently in Pennsylvania.

Conjoined sisters Juraci and Nadir Climerio de Oliveria were born in Brazil in 1957, sharing just one intestinal and renal system. They live in a Maternity Hospital in Salvador until dying at age 17 in 1974.

In May, 1965, conjoined sisters Guiseppina and Santina Foglia were successfully separated after being fused together from birth at the base of the spine. They went on to live normal lives in their home in Asti, Italy.

In the late 1960's conjoined twin sisters, Ganga and Jamuna Mondal, are born in India. They have separate heads, hearts and lungs, but are joined at the stomach and share a single liver, fused bowel track and a single genital. The still-living twin sisters travel together as part of the Dreamland Circus in India. One of the twins gives birth to a baby girl in the mid 1990's, but the baby dies shortly after its birth.

Conjoined Twins Timeline by Years

900-1499
1500-1699
1700-1799
1800-1899
1900-1949
1950-1969 (You're here now)
1970-1979
1980-1989
1990-1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
General Information on Conjoined Twins
Conjoined Twins Timeline Entry Page