They Can Sleep, Cry
and Become Ill Separately
In these pictures,
taken when the twins were a year old, their third leg is at the
top, on the far side of their body. It has a cleft foot with
eight toes. Half of it is Masha's, half Dasha's. Masha
can feel pain in her half of the leg, but not in Dasha's - and
vica versa. In the top picture, as a pediatrician presses on
Dasha's side of the foot, Dasha cries out while Masha feels
nothing. In the bottom picture Masha cries when the other
side of the foot is tickled. The X-ray at bottom was taken
when the girls were babies. A superimposed drawing shows how
Masha's and Dasha's interal organs and bones are connected.
Their pelvic bones join and their spines meet at the concyx.
Their circulatory system is interconnected: if one were bitten by
a poisonous snake, the venom would quickly spread to both.
Although their spines connect, their spinal cords do not.
Hence their nervous
systems - e.g., sense of touch - totally distinct. They
become ill separately, fall asleep separately. The have two
stomachs (visible in drawing), and separate upper intestines which
join into a single lower intestine and rectum. They have
four kidneys - but only one bladder, and they don't always agree
on when to urinate; sometimes one twin wants to and the doesn't,
Soviet doctors say there is no physiological reason why Masha and
Dasha could not become a mother; they have a common reproductive
The Girls were five
years old before they learned to walk. Their left leg is
controlled by Dasha and their right leg by Masha, and they had to
do special exercises to learn how to coordinate. But after a
protracted struggle they learned to move together quite well.
Now they can ride a bicycle, dance, go up and down stairs and even
climb a ladder. but their personalities are entirely
different, although they have identical genes and share the same
environment as fully as any two human beings ever can. Dasha
- the one on the right is quick, bright and serious. She
loves to read. She is also more temperamental and usually
wins a sisterly argument. Masha has always been slower.
"She is a light-minded chatterbox," say Professor Anokhin, "and
already flirts with boys." But a few years ago when doctors
planned an operation to remove their third leg, it was serious
Dasha who became so upset that the doctors dropped the idea.
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.
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