Inside the miraculous life of the world's oldest conjoined twins (2024)

When the world's oldest conjoined twins were first born, medical professionals doubted they would survive the year - yet they defied all odds stacked against them.

Lori Schappell and her transgender twin George were born with their skulls and the left side of their foreheads fused together in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1961.

The twins, who spent their lives facing in opposite directions, defied expectations living to the age of 62 despite doctors saying they wouldn't live beyond 30.

When the pair were first born, medical science was not advanced enough to separate the craniopagus twins.

But even when separation became theoretically possible - as their brains were not fused - the twins were adamant about staying together.

Lori and her transgender twin George were born with their skulls and the left side of their foreheads fused together in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1961 (pictured, in September 2011)

Although doctors doubted they would survive a year after being born (pictured) - they defied all odds becoming the wold's oldest conjoined twins before their death this month

'I don’t believe in separation. I think you’re messing with God’s work,' Lori told the Los Angeles Times.

Her transgender twin also quipped: 'Would we be separated? Absolutely not. My theory is: why fix what is not broken?'

Despite being joined for life, the twins were dramatically different from one another and led independent, joyous and fulfilled lives.

Read More World's oldest conjoined twins dead at 62: Sister and her transgender brother whose skulls were fused together pass away in Pennsylvania

George, who was born with spina abifida and was pushed in his wheelchair by his twin, identified as a man a the age of 46 and was an award-winning country singer.

While Lori had several boyfriends and invested her time into her passion of ten pin bowling - bagging many trophies along the way.

Lori and George - who preferred using 'I' pronoun to 'we' - were also drastically different in personalities,

A journalist for the New York Magazine remarked how George was academically inclined, while Lori was more 'street smart'.

They also said George was more career-orientated and frugal while his sister was a 'homemaker' who enjoyed to shop.

But despite their varying interest and divergent traits, the pair always compromised for one another - so they both could be happy.

The pairbecame the first conjoined twins to identify as different genders in 2007, after Dori began to identify as George

The siblings, who had partially-fused skulls, could have been theoretically separated but were adamant about staying together

For example, George was the twin who wanted to pursue further education, while they later made time for Lori to work at a hospital laundry for years.

While she would be hard at work, the future country crooner would be sitting quietly on a stool.

By the mid-90s Lori quit her job at the hospital so George, who was then called Dori, could chase his dreams of being a country singer.

At the time, George took on the name Reba - inspired by the singer Reba McEntire - and went on to preform in venues throughout the US and even Japan and Germany.

He even was awarded best new country artist at the Los Angeles Music Awards in 1997.

Whilst George was singing tracks such as the Fear of Being Alone from a comedy about fictional conjoined twins - Stuck On You - Lori quietly sat in silence.

Hidden under a blanket, Lori would attempt to be invisible to those in the crowd.

' [The audience] don't see me there. It's like there's a blanket over me because I'm quiet and don't make a noise,' she said.

Further showcasing how different the twins were to one another, George, whose original names was Dori, began to identify as a man at 46-year-old in 2007, making the twins the first same sex-twins to identify as different genders.

After the two briefly lived in a student residence during their studies at the Hiram G Andrews technical college in Elm and they got their own flat.

The twins often compromised for one another so they could achieve their dreams, with George becoming an award-winning country singer

Lori would try her best to be invisible to the crowds of fans by hiding under a blanket

There even had their very own rooms, with one twin staying quiet whilst the other enjoyed their peace and privacy.

They would even shower at varying times of the day, with George having his in the morning and Dori taking to the bathroom later in the day.

The conjoined twins even had a shower curtain to separate them so they could both enjoy their bathroom time.

Read More 'This is beyond empathy': Do these amazing conjoined twin girls share ONE mind?

'Just because we cannot get up and walk away from each other doesn't mean that we cannot have solitude from other people or ourselves,' Lori explained.

'People who are conjoined can have a very private life.'

Although the pair would go on to lead extraordinary lives, their beginnings were anything but easy.

Despite their religious mother and father's- Franklin and Ruth - wishes, the twins were separated from their six siblings and loving parents.

From a young age the pair were placed into a facility for the mentally impaired located in the nearby town of Hamburg.

Explaining how 'unfair' the decision was, Lori explained to the BBC in 2005 that their parents were against the idea.

'Our parents didn’t want it at all. They were against it, but the courts ruled that they wouldn’t be able to take care of us.'

The twins initially embraced the limelight wanting to showcase to others that conjoined twins could lead normal lives

They began to shy away from the media after many of the questions would pertain to their sex lives'

Even though they attended the local high school, Lori and George resided for the institution for over two decades.

Thanks to a chance encounter with Ginny Thornburg - the wife to the governor of Pennsylvania, it was determined the duo were not impaired were released.

Lori and George were comfortable in their skin and became accustomed to the constant stares from unknowing strangers.

They featured in various documentaries as well as several shows led by renowned hosts such as Howard Stern, Maury Povish and Jerry Springer.

The conjoined twins even starred in Ripley's Believe It Or Not grand opening in New York's Time Square.

Explaining why they initially embraced the limelight, Lori divulged that she felt it was important they showcased conjoined twins weren't different than other people.

However after a slew of questions pertaining to their sex lives, the pair decided to take a step away from the media stating they felt 'exploited by the modern version of a travelling sideshow.'

The questions of sex would often arise during these interviews, especially for Lori who had numerous boyfriends.

On The Jerry Springer Show, George once said: 'When she was out on a date I was not there.

'I was there bodily [but] I didn’t look at anything or even say anything. It was like I wasn’t there.'

'You really forget [he's] there, you really do. He’s in his own little world and he doesn’t bother me from the time I start a date until it ends.' Lori chimed in.

'I’ve been out with men but as for anything besides cuddling and kissing I won’t go further.

'I want marriage and children and will only give up my virginity on my wedding night.'

Lore was quite open about her desire to one day have a family of her own explaining: 'Eventually I would love to have myself a family - a husband and children of mine.'

Lori and her transgender twin George passed away on Sunday at a hospital in Pennsylvania due to undisclosed causes, per their online obituaries

Interviewer Antony Thomas then asked George whether he would share the intimacy with any future husband, to which he replied: 'He would be like a brother-in-law to me, that's it.

'They can do whatever they do and I'd act like I'm not even there. I would block it out.'

Lori never did walk down the aisle. She was once engaged but her husband to be died in a traffic collision, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

In 2015, they became the world's oldest conjoined twins, overtaking Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova who died aged 53.

Lori and George passed away on Sunday at a hospital in Pennsylvania due to undisclosed causes, per their online obituaries.

They are survived by their father, six siblings, several nieces and nephews.

Inside the miraculous life of the world's oldest conjoined twins (2024)


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