At the age of
seven, Masha (left) and Dasha (right) show how well
they can stand up on their two good legs at Moscow's Institute of
Prosthetics, where the twins lived during the years when they were
learning how to walk.
Masha and Dasha
Krivoshiyapova (3 January 1950 – 17 April 2003) were Russian
Masha and Dasha were
of the Ischiopagus tripus variety. They were joined at the hip
with their spines conjoined at 180-degree angles in a unique way
which made surgical separation impossible. Their unique connection
included three legs shared between them, a shared single lower
intestine, four kidneys utilized by one bladder, one shared
reproductive system and a circulatory system that pumped the same
blood through both women's bodies.
mother was told that the girls died moments after birth, but in
reality they were spirited away to a Soviet research institute for
study. For the next 20 years, the sisters were subjected to cruel
experiments in order to determine which anatomical systems they
shared. One sister would be placed in iced water, while doctors
monitored the other's body temperature, or else one would be poked
with needles to see if the other cried. They were five years old
when they learned to walk and required crutches to move around,
since their torsos were too far apart for them to balance
naturally. Although they were given special clothes to wear for
press photos, such as the ones shown here, they were usually kept
naked or in hospital gowns and received substandard educations.
At the age of 12 and refused to participate any longer. When they
were 17, they had a surgery to remove the third leg, which was
actually both of their inner legs that had fused together. Without
the leg, they couldn’t walk and had to get around on crutches.
Eventually they received a wheelchair. They lived in an apartment
in Moscow. Several doctors offered to separate the twins using the
surgical technology now available, but they declined. One sister
said, "If we weren't conjoined, we would probably still live
together." On April 17, 2003, Dasha, who was an alcoholic, died of
a heart attack. Masha again refused separation, but was
administered a sleeping pill. She died 17 hours later.
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