Abby Hensel is married! Conjoined twin who rose to fame in reality show Abby & Brittany secretly tied the knot with an army veteran in 2021

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Written By Maya Cantina

An American teacher who is a conjoined twin – and the only woman in the world with an extremely rare form of the condition – quietly married three years ago. 

According to public records obtained by TODAY, Abby Hensel, now 34, from Minnesota, tied the knot with Josh Bowling, a nurse and army veteran in 2021. 

Abby and her sister Brittany, one of only a few sets of dicephalus twins in history to survive infancy, rose to fame on their eponymous TLC show which chronicled their major life events, including their high school graduation and job hunting.

The pair share a single body, and from the waist down, all their organs, including the intestine, bladder and reproductive organs, are shared. There is only one of set of twins living in the world with the same condition – brothers Ayşe and Sema Tanrıkulu who were born in Turkey in 2000. 

Abby’s relationship with Josh, who is a father-of-one, has gone under the radar until now, with the twins leading a quieter life out of the spotlight in the past 10 years.  

Abby Hensel (pictured left), now 34, got married to nurse and former US veteran Josh Bowling (pictured right) back in 2021 

On TikTok account @abbyandbrittanyhensel, a clip was recently posted showing off Abby’s big day – and a Facebook account titled Britt And Abby also featured a picture of the happy couple.

For the ceremony, which records revealed took place back in 2021, the twins sported a sleeveless wedding dress with lace trim detailing while the groom wore a grey suit.

A video thought to have been captured by one of their guests and shared on social media showed the twins and the groom enjoying a dance during the big day. 

It’s likely the father-of-one and the twins live with one another, with Josh’s Facebook page showing the family enjoys hikes in nature, ice cream and dressing up for Halloween. 

The sisters are now both fifth grade teachers, according to TODAY. They live in Minnesota, where they were born and raised by their parents, a nurse and a carpenter.

They first captivated the world in 1996 when they appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and the cover of Life Magazine.

They then lived a quiet, normal life in Minnesota with their family, keeping away from the media spotlight until they agreed to appear on a documentary for TLC when they turned 16. 

When the Hensel twins were born on March 7, 1990, in Minnesota, doctors warned their parents Patty and Mike that they were unlikely to survive the night. But that prediction was to prove wildly wrong.  

Abby (pictured right) dancing with her groom at her wedding day, while wearing a stunning white lace dress

Abby (pictured right) dancing with her groom at her wedding day, while wearing a stunning white lace dress

Here is Abby (pictured left) as she stuns in a white floor-length gown on her wedding day

Here is Abby (pictured left) as she stuns in a white floor-length gown on her wedding day

Abby and her sister Brittany (pictured during their childhood), one of only a few sets of dicephalus twins in history to survive infancy, rose to fame on their eponymous TLC show which chronicled their major life events, including their high school graduation and job hunting

Abby and her sister Brittany (pictured during their childhood), one of only a few sets of dicephalus twins in history to survive infancy, rose to fame on their eponymous TLC show which chronicled their major life events, including their high school graduation and job hunting

The pair (pictured as children) share a single body, and from the waist down, all their organs, including the intestine, bladder and reproductive organs, are shared

The pair (pictured as children) share a single body, and from the waist down, all their organs, including the intestine, bladder and reproductive organs, are shared

They also stunned doctors with their astonishing co-ordination while playing the piano, with Abigail taking the right-hand parts and Brittany the left.

Growing up, 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.

She said: ‘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?’

Yet parents Patty and Mike never once considered having the twins separated, because of the risk both might die or be left with such severe disabilities their quality of life would be compromised. 

When growing up, they, like many twins, had very different personalities and tastes. Abigail, the feisty, stubborn one, liked orange juice for breakfast, while Brittany, the joker of the family, would only touch milk. 

Speaking previously, Brittany, who alongside her sibling graduated from Bethel University in Minnesota, said: ‘Believe me, we are totally different people.’ 

Abby's relationship with Josh, who is a father-of-one, has gone under the radar until now, with the twins leading a quieter life out of the spotlight in the past 10 years

Abby’s relationship with Josh, who is a father-of-one, has gone under the radar until now, with the twins leading a quieter life out of the spotlight in the past 10 years

The twins are now both fifth grade teachers, according to TODAY. They live in Minnesota, where they were born and raised by their parents, a nurse and a carpenter

The twins are now both fifth grade teachers, according to TODAY. They live in Minnesota, where they were born and raised by their parents, a nurse and a carpenter

The girls are shown graduating from Bethel University in Minnesota in the first episode of their reality show

The girls are shown graduating from Bethel University in Minnesota in the first episode of their reality show

What are conjoined twins? 

Conjoined twins occur when siblings have their skin or internal organs fused together.

It affects around one in 200,000 live births.

Conjoined twins are caused by a fertilised egg beginning to split into two embryos a few weeks after conception, but the process stops before it is complete.

The most common type is twins joined at the chest or abdomen.

Separation surgery success depends on where the twins are joined.

Doctors can only tell which organs the siblings share, and therefore plan surgery, after they are born. 

At least one twin survives 75 per cent of the time. 

The most famous pair of conjoined twins was Chang and Eng Bunker, who  were born in 1811 and travelled with PT Barnum’s circus. They were born in Siam and were known as the Siamese 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, resulting in dicephalic parapagus – where the twins have two heads and a single body with two arms and two legs.  

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.

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Patty had no idea she was carrying twins until the birth at the local hospital where she worked.

‘The paediatrician said my babies were together but they had two heads,’ she recalled in 2006. 

‘It was blunt, but completely accurate.  From the first time we saw them, we thought they were beautiful. 

‘I 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.’

Both 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 and sister Morgan away from the media spotlight.

In infancy, a third undeveloped arm was removed from the twins’ chest and aged 12 they underwent surgery to correct scoliosis – curvature of the spine – and expand their chest cavity to prevent future breathing difficulties.

During their show (pictured), the twins displayed an astonishing sense of co-ordination, with each using one arm to perform tasks, including playing the piano and sport

During their show (pictured), the twins displayed an astonishing sense of co-ordination, with each using one arm to perform tasks, including playing the piano and sport

During their show (pictured), the twins displayed an astonishing sense of co-ordination, with each using one arm to perform tasks, including playing the piano and sport

The pair passed their driving test on their 16th birthday, with each twin using one arm to control the steering wheel

The pair passed their driving test on their 16th birthday, with each twin using one arm to control the steering wheel

Their mother Patty (pictured alongside one another) encouraged her daughters to develop their own individuality

Their mother Patty (pictured alongside one another) encouraged her daughters to develop their own individuality

The twins are seen prepping for their 22nd birthday party

The twins are seen prepping for their 22nd birthday party

They attended a private church school and only when the family ventures outside this close-knit community does the curiosity of strangers have the potential to wound.

Once Patty heard a child at a swimming pool ask his mother if she had seen the little girl with two heads. ‘We have talked about that with Abigail and Brittany,’ she previously said.

‘When children ask the girls if they have two heads, they say they don’t but that each has their own head. That’s what we have encouraged them to do, to develop their own individuality as much as possible.’

According to previous reports, only once 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.

She 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.

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