Lori and George Schappell, Long-Surviving Conjoined Twins, Die at 62

Lori and George Schappell, conjoined twins whose skulls were partially fused but who managed to lead independent lives, died April 7 in Philadelphia. There were 62.

His death, in a hospital, was announced by a funeral homewho did not cite a cause.

Dr. Christopher Moir, A professor of surgery at the Mayo Clinic, who was part of teams that separated six pairs of conjoined twins (although none of them were joined at the head), said that when one of the Schappells died, the other almost certainly would have. followed quickly.

“Conjoined twins share circulation,” he said, “so unless you somehow emergently split their connection, it’s an absolutely fatal and infeasible process.”

The Schappells lived much longer than expected when they were born as craniopagus twins, joined at the head, which is rare. They were cited as the the second oldest conjoined twins in history by Guinness World Records.

They were connected to the sides of their foreheads and faced opposite directions. Lori was healthy and she pushed George, who had spina bifida, onto a stool with wheels. George was assigned female at birth and adopted a new name in the 1990s, Reba, for country singer Reba McEntire, but he later came out as a trans man.

They insisted, flatly, that they were different people.

“We are two human beings who came into the world connected in an area of ​​the body.” Lori said in a short ITV documentary in 1997. “This is a condition that occurs from birth and people have to learn to understand it. When you see this,” she pointed to her joined heads, “all you see is this.”

And he added: “Reba and I are much more than this. Let’s get over this now, everyone, let’s get over it and learn to know the individual person.”

Lori worked in a hospital laundry in the 1990s and liked to bowl.

George, like Reba, performed country music in the United States and abroad; she won a Los Angeles Music Award for best new country artist in 1997; and she sang “The Fear of Being Alone” over the closing credits of “stuck on you” (2003), a comedy directed by Bobby and Peter Farrell and starring Greg Kinnear and Matt Damon as conjoined twins.

The Schappells had been hired as technical consultants for the film, but when the Farrellys learned of Reba’s musical talent, they added Reba’s performance of “The Fear of Being Alone,” a song that Reba McEntire had recorded in 1996, The Los reported. Los Angeles Times. Reba too made a video of the song.

In 2002, Reba appeared on “The Jerry Springer Show,” singing “Dr. Talk,” a song Springer wrote and recorded in 1995. The audience stood and applauded during the performance.

The twins gave each other space for their activities. Reba told BBC Radio in 2006: “When I sing, Lori is like another fan, except she’s on stage with me, covered by a blanket to reduce distraction.”

On Springer’s show, the twins noticed Lori dating men and discussed logistics.

During Lori’s dates, Reba said, “It wasn’t there in my mind. I was there physically. “I didn’t look at anything or say anything.”

Lori added, “You really forget she’s there.”

Lori said she only went so far with men: “As for anything other than hugging or kissing, I won’t go any further. “I will give up my virginity on my wedding night.”

She added: “I’ve shared intimacy before.”

The Schappell twins were born on September 18, 1961 in West Reading, Pennsylvania, two of eight children to Franklin and Ruth Schappell. Their doctor gave them one year to live.

“Then he made the case that we won’t live past 2 or we won’t live past 3,” Lori told the Los Angeles Times in 2002. “Every year he was wrong. We were saying the other day, if you could see us now, we are 41 years old and we are still here.”

At a young age, the twins were placed in an institution for the intellectually disabled in Reading, according to a 2005 article in New York magazine.

“Since they were not retarded, they helped the caregivers make the beds and feed other children.” Ellen Weissbrod, who directed “Face to Face: The Schappell Twins,” a documentary from 2000, he said by phone.

The Schappells were institutionalized for more than 20 years until they met Ginny Thornburgh, the wife of Governor Dick Thornburgh of Pennsylvania, in the 1980s. Mrs. Thornburgh was an activist for the disabled and Governor Thornburgh closed some institutions for people with developmental disabilities.

Relaying her memories of the Schappells through Governor Thornburgh’s former press secretary, Paul Critchlow, Ms. Thornburgh said that in speaking with them it was clear that they were not intellectually disabled and did not belong in the facility. She spoke to the facility’s chaplain, who helped move them to senior housing in Reading.

Thornburgh later invited the twins to have lunch with her at the governor’s residence in Harrisburg. She also visited them at her apartment.

They are survived by their father; his sisters, Denise Schappell, Brenda Zellers and Patti Cahill; and his brothers, Rodney, Dennis and Gregory. Her mother died in 2019.

The Schappell twins said they never wanted to be surgically separated and did not wish they had been born apart.

“Our parents instilled in us from the day we were old enough to know better and understand what they were saying,” Lori told ITV, “that God did this for a purpose.”

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