Living life to its fullest: Conjoined twins Abigail and Brittany Hensel cross the pond and head to London for a spot of sightseeing in the latest installment of their hit reality show
11:42 GMT, 12 September 2012
They face non-stop challenges every day, but conjoined twins Abby and Brittany Hensel don't let anything faze them.
The 22-year-olds, who star in reality TV show Abby & Brittany, jetted into London during the latest installment of the series and looked as though they were having the time of their lives as they took in the sights.
Abby and Brittany, who were joined by their best friends Erin and Becca, were seen boarding a London sightseeing bus, having 'high tea' and snapping photos of Big Ben and Buckingham Palace before taking a ride in the London Eye.
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Time of their lives: Conjoined twins Abby and Brittany Hensel visit London in the latest episode of their new reality TV show
All aboard: The twins snap photos together while on a London sightseeing bus
The mischievous twosome also learned how to row during a visit to Maidenhead Rowing Club and laughed hysterically as they paddled across the water, with each twin maneuvering a separate oar.
'They are like two separate people, they are really nice,' two English children remarked after chatting to the girls.
The show, which debuted last month, chronicles the next part of their journey as the girls take the leap from students to young professionals via a summer travelling through Europe with their friends.
The English experience: Abby and Brittany have 'high tea' with their friends
Picture perfect: The twosome pose for photos with a friend
In the first episode of the show the twins, who share one body fused at the torso, were shown celebrating their 22nd birthday, graduating from Bethel University in Minnesota and getting ready for job interviews.
The girls first captivated the world in 1996 when they appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and the cover of Life Magazine.
then they have lived a quiet, normal life with their family in
Minnesota, keeping away from the media spotlight until they agreed to
appear on a documentary for TLC when they turned 16. The network has since given them their own show.
Row your boat: Abby and Brittany laughed with delight during a rowing lesson in Maidenhead
Two of a kind The twins, who share one body fused at the torso, have very different personalities and tastes
When the Hensel twins were born on March
7, 1990, in Minnesota in the United States, doctors warned their parents
Patty, a registered nurse, and Mike, a carpenter and landscaper, that
they were unlikely to survive the night.
But that prediction was to prove wildly wrong.
When growing up, they, like many twins, had very different personalities and tastes.
the feisty, stubborn one, liked orange juice for breakfast, while
Brittany, the joker of the family, would only touch milk.
TLC's Abby and Brittany show charts the next chapter of the twins life as they graduate from college and travel across Europe with their friends
One in a trillion: The Hensels are believed to be one of only a few sets of dicephalus twins in history to survive infancy
They also stunned doctors with their astonishing co-ordination while playing the piano, with Abigail taking the right-hand parts and Brittany the left.
They enjoyed sports such as bowling, volleyball, cycling, softball and swimming.
And on their 16th birthday they passed their driving test, a mind-boggling feat of teamwork with each twin using one arm to control the steering wheel.
Speaking at the time, their mother Patty, a registered nurse, conceded that could have been a problem.
'I don't know what would happen if they got pulled over for speeding. Would they each get a ticket or just Abby because it's her foot on the accelerator'
Feat of teamwork: The girls passed their driving test on their 16th birthday, with each twin using one arm to control the steering wheel
The Daily Mail first introduced the Hensel twins 16 years ago, when they were six years old, and now their latest escapades show the dramatic progress they have made into early adulthood.
The Hensels are believed to be one of only a few sets of dicephalus twins in history to survive infancy, and when they turned 16, they allowed the cameras into their fiercely guarded private world to share this milestone in their lives.
Speaking back then, Brittany said: 'Believe me, we are totally different people.'
It has not been unknown, however, for the twins to go out in a specially made top with two different necklines – to reflect their unique tastes – and leggings with each leg a contrasting colour and a different shoe on each foot.
Just one set of twins in every 40,000 is born connected in some way to each other and only 1 per cent of those survive beyond the first year.
Unique parenting skills: Their mother Patty has encouraged the girls to develop their own individuality and to ensure that if one of the twins misbehaves, she is careful to only scold the one responsible
In unison: The twins display an astonishing sense of co-ordination, with each using one arm to perform tasks, including playing the piano and sport
HENSEL GIRLS ARE RAREST FORM OF CONJOINED TWINS
The Hensel girls are the rarest form of conjoined twins, the result of a single fertilised egg which failed to separate properly in the womb.
They have two spines (which join at the pelvis), two hearts, two oesophagi, two stomachs, three kidneys, two gall bladders, four lungs (two of which are joined), one liver, one ribcage, a shared circulatory system and partially shared nervous systems.
From the waist down, all organs, including the intestine, bladder and reproductive organs, are shared.
While they were born with three arms, one was removed surgically.
Although Brittany – the left twin – can't feel anything on the right side of the body and Abigail – the right twin – can't feel anything on her left, instinctively their limbs move as if co-ordinated by one person, even when typing e-mails on the computer.
It is rare for twins conjoined the way that Abby and Brittany are to survive into adulthood, but despite this they are in good health, without heart defects or organ failure.
Yet Patty, 46 and Mike, 47, never once
considered having the twins separated, through fear that one or both
might die or be left with such severe disabilities their quality of life
would be compromised and could no longer enjoy all the activities they
They would each have just one arm and one leg and be confined to a wheelchair.
Patty had no idea she was carrying twins until the birth at the local hospital where she worked
paediatrician said my babies were together but they had two heads,' she
recalled in 2006. 'It was blunt, but completely accurate.
first time we saw them, we thought they were beautiful.
kissed Abigail and then Brittany and gave them a hug. It's like that
every time I pick them up from school, two kisses and one hug for the
most beautiful children in the world.'
Mike and Patty's families have lived in a small midwestern farming
community of 300 people for generations and it is here where they have
brought up the twins and younger brother Dakota, 20, and sister Morgan,
18, away from the media spotlight.
What is perhaps most touching about
Abigail and Brittany, however, is their ability to get on – despite
their different personalities.
They seldom argue, despite Abigail always
wanting to be the leader and – according to their mother – liking 'to
rule the whole house'.
One twin will scratch an itch the
other cannot reach or hold her hand still so the other can count during a
maths lesson and when Brittany was ill with pneumonia and couldn't keep
the medicine down, Abigail volunteered to take it in the hope of making
her twin better.
have the twins talked about separation – in childhood – when Abigail
became bored and restless after Brittany fell ill with pneumonia and was
confined to bed.
started to suggest being separated from her sister, but when Brittany
began to cry Abigail reassured her that everything was fine and that
they'd never be parted.
Give and take: What is perhaps most touching about Abigail and Brittany has been their ability to get on, despite their different personalities
Videos: Abby and Brittany aged 16 and 19