A Look Into Their Life: World's Oldest Conjoined Twins, Lori And George Schappell Pass Away At 62

By Victor Smiroff | Sunday, 14 April 2024 03:00 PM
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The world recently bid farewell to the oldest living conjoined twins, Lori and George Schappell, who passed away at the age of 62 in their home state of Pennsylvania.

The twins' demise occurred on April 7 at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, as stated in an obituary. The cause of their death remains undisclosed.

Born on September 18, 1961, in Reading, a city in southern Pennsylvania, the Schappell twins were a unique case of conjoined twins. They were connected at the skull, each possessing a separate body but sharing 30% of their brain and vital blood vessels. George was diagnosed with spina bifida and relied on a mobility device for movement, with Lori assisting by pushing and steering George's wheeled stool.

According to a report by NBC Today, the Schappell twins represented the rarest form of conjoined twinning, a condition that affects only 2% to 6% of conjoined twins. In 2007, George transitioned, making the Schappells the first same-sex conjoined twins to identify as different genders, as reported by Guinness World Records.

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In a 2011 interview with the Sun newspaper during a visit to London to celebrate their 50th birthday, George opened up about his decision to come out. "I have known from a very young age that I should have been a boy," he said. He further added, "It was so tough, but I was getting older and I simply didn’t want to live a lie. I knew I had to live my life the way I wanted."

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The Schappell twins were graduates of the Hiram G Andrews Center, a technical institute in Elim, Pennsylvania. They both had a long-standing employment history with Reading hospital. Despite their physical connection, the twins had distinct hobbies and interests. George was a country music singer who had performed in several countries, including Germany and Japan, as per Guinness World Records. Lori, on the other hand, was an acclaimed tenpin bowler.

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The siblings had been living independently since they were 24. They had previously resided in an institution for people with intellectual impairments, despite not being mentally disabled, following a court order, as reported by New York Magazine. Later, they shared a two-bedroom apartment, each having their own room and alternating their sleeping arrangements.

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The Schappells maintained that, despite their physical connection, they were able to enjoy privacy in their shared apartment. "Just because we cannot get up and walk away from each other, doesn’t mean we cannot have solitude from other people or ourselves," Lori said in a 1997 documentary.

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While some conjoined twins have chosen to undergo surgical separation, such procedures were not available when the Schappells were born. Moreover, the twins were against the idea of separation. "Would we be separated? Absolutely not," George said in a 1997 documentary. "My theory is: why fix what is not broken?" Lori echoed this sentiment in a 2002 interview with the Los Angeles Times, stating, "I don’t believe in separation."

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