Home NEWS ARTICLES World’s oldest conjoined twins, Lori and George, die at 62

World’s oldest conjoined twins, Lori and George, die at 62

Twins George and Lori Schappell, who formerly held the title as the world’s oldest living conjoined twins, have died. They were 62 years old.

According to Guinness World Records, George and Lori died on April 7 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Their cause of death is so far unknown.

The record keeper said Lori and George were nine years older than the second-oldest female conjoined twins ever recorded — though George in 2007 announced he is transgender.

At 62, George and Lori had more than doubled the 30-year life expectancy their doctors anticipated.

Born September 1961 in Pennsylvania, the twins were conjoined by partially fused skulls. As a result, Guinness reported they shared 30 per cent of their brain and several vital blood vessels.

Lori was able-bodied, though George was diagnosed with spina bifida (a birth defect that occurs along the spine if the neural tube does not close all the way). As a result, George could not walk and used a wheelchair-type stool that moved when Lori pushed it.

Even still, George and Lori strived to live as individually as possible, with different interests, careers and even different bedrooms, which they slept in together on alternating nights.

George performed as a country singer, while Lori was an acclaimed ten-pin bowler.

With exceptional schedule maintenance and compromise, the siblings were able to balance life and passion. Lori was employed at a hospital laundry unit, and George’s musical gigs occasionally brought them abroad.

While appearing as documentary subjects in 1997, George and Lori were asked if they ever wished they were separated. Their answer was an enthusiastic no.

“Would we be separated? Absolutely not,” George told interviewers. “My theory is: why fix what is not broken?”

The twins also spoke about the importance of privacy, even from one another. For example, when George would practice his music, Lori would not interrupt.

“I’m here in body, but that is it,” Lori described. “Just because we cannot get up and walk away from each other doesn’t mean we can’t have solitude from other people or from ourselves. People who are conjoined can have a very private life.”

“If you love the person you’re with and you respect them, you’re going to give them the privacy and compromise in situations that you would want them to give you,” George added.

How do conjoined twins develop?
According to Mayo Clinic, conjoined twins develop when an early embryo only partially separates to form two individuals.

“Although two babies develop from this embryo, they remain physically connected — most often at the chest, abdomen or pelvis,” the authority wrote.

Many conjoined twins are stillborn or die shortly after birth due to other health complications. Some conjoined twins can be surgically separated, though it is dependent on how many, if any, organs are shared between the siblings. Even still, this kind of surgery is highly specialized and can only be performed by very skilled practitioners.

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