Conjoined Twins Had Separate Careers

Lori and George Schappell dead at 62
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 16, 2024 4:56 PM CDT
Oldest Conjoined Twins Die at 62
In this July 8, 2003 photo, Lori, left, and George Schappell, conjoined twins, are photographed in their Reading, Pennsylvania apartment.   (John A. Secoges/Reading Eagle via AP, File)

Conjoined twins Lori and George Schappell, who pursued separate careers, interests, and relationships during lives that defied medical expectations, died this month in Pennsylvania, according to funeral home officials. They were 62. The twins, listed by Guinness World Records as the oldest living conjoined twins, died April 7 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, according to obituaries posted by Leibensperger Funeral Homes of Hamburg. The cause of death was not detailed.

  • "When we were born, the doctors didn't think we'd make 30, but we proved them wrong," Lori said in an interview when they turned 50, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. George came out as transgender in 2007. The Inquirer reports that Lori was once engaged to be married but her fiance died in a car crash.

  • The twins, born Sept. 18, 1961, in West Reading, Pennsylvania, had distinct brains but were joined at the skull, the AP reports. George, who had spina bifida and was 4 inches shorter, was wheeled around by Lori on an adaptive wheeled stool. Despite each having to go where the other went, it was "very important" to both "to live as independently as possible," the obituary said.
  • Both graduated from a public high school and took college classes. George went along for six years as Lori worked in a hospital laundry. Lori—"a trophy-winning bowler," according to the obituary notice—gave up the job in 1996 so her sibling could launch a country music career.
  • "Since the age of 24, they have maintained their own residence and have traveled extensively," the obituary notice said. Over the years, they appeared in many documentaries and talk shows, as well as in an episode of the FX medical drama Nip/Tuck.
  • Separation was deemed risky for the Schappell twins, but Lori Schappell told the AP in a 2002 interview that she didn't think such an operation was necessary in any case. "You don't mess with what God made, even if it means you enjoy both children for a shorter time," she said. In a 1997 documentary, George also strongly ruled out the idea of separation, saying, "Why fix what is not broken?"

(More conjoined twins stories.)

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