What Happens When one Conjoined Twin Dies Before the Other?

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When two conjoined twins are only partially connected, and do not share their vital organs with each other, only one dies. This has happened in the past, and the dead twin would have to be separated as soon as possible, or it may endanger the life of the twin that is alive.

If the separation of the twins was not possible when both of them were alive, it would not only become possible at the time of one of their deaths, but it would become vital so as to save the surviving twin.

If the twins share their vital organs, such as the heart, then the two of them die. Sadly, in most instances, the conjoined twins do share their vital organs. Therefore both die usually minutes to hours apart.

The necrotic tissues will cause a septic situation in the surviving twin's body. Organ failure due to the sharing of organs can also occur. The doctors need to perform an emergency separation quickly. This kind of surgery is very difficult and often takes weeks to plan.

A pair like the Hensel girls, Abby and Brittany who have one body but have individual vital organs and also have totally distinct heads (and brains) cannot be separated.

Chang and Eng who shared a liver plus the ‘ligament’ which connected them was complex. Chang had developed bronchitis, after an injury from a fall and doctors speculated he died in his sleep of a blood clot to the brain. The story goes that Eng died of fright, but considering that his last request was for his brother’s body to be moved closer to him i doubt that…likely he sensed their unique physiology meant he would soon die as well.

They had very full lives, having separate wives, homes (and a third place they stayed one day a week without either wife. They fathered 21 children between them and had made a pretty good living. They were intelligent and took charge of themselves as they reached maturity.

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