World Mourns Oldest Conjoined Twins, Lori and George Schappell, at 62

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In the peaceful town of Reading, Pennsylvania, solemn bells echo regretfully, as it mourns the poignant loss of Lori and George Schappell, the oldest living conjoined twins on record according to the Guinness World Records. This dynamic duo, whose unique lives boldly challenged medical expectations, expired this month, aged 62 years, as per official reports from the local funeral home. The angels carried them away on April 7, at the prestigious Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The stark silence from the Leibensperger Funeral Homes of Hamburg surrounding their cause of death only adds to the growing gloom.

In a world that pinned them down with low expectations, the sanguine spirits of Lori and George soared high. “When we were born, the doctors didn’t think we’d make 30, but we proved them wrong,” Lori gallantly declared on their 50th birthday, as recorded by The Philadelphia Inquirer. Their resilience took another bold stride when George bravely identified as transgender in 2007.

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The twins, welcomed into this world on the 18th of September, 1961, were unique from birth, sharing a skull yet harboring distinct minds. Despite George, the shorter of the two by 4 inches and suffering from spina bifida, having to be maneuvered by Lori on a specialized wheeled stool, they thrived in their shared existence. The twins strongly advocated for independence and defied the constraint of their physical bond, navigating life’s complexities with unyielding determination.

Armed with a public high school diploma and some college education, the resilient pair embarked on various undertakings in life. Lori worked tirelessly in a hospital laundry for six years, with George offering unwavering support. Both were tenacious in their pursuits — Lori, an accomplished bowler, left her job in 1996 to unstintingly support George’s launch into a career in country music.

Despite their extraordinary circumstances, the duo relished in the mundane activities of life. They held their residences from their mid-20s, they traveled extensively and were active contributors to cultural discourses, gracing documentaries, talk shows, and even a popular FX medical drama, “Nip/Tuck”. Lori once had a loving fiancé who unfortunately succumbed to a tragic automobile accident. During her dates, George would accompany her with books to keep herself occupied.

The twins’ daily routines were almost as unique as they were. A 1997 documentary revealed George and Lori’s differing bathing schedules, showcasing an understanding of mutual privacy and respect for each other that was rare and touching. For them, compromise meant a dance of giving and taking, of not always getting what you wanted instantly.

The medical phenomenon of conjoined twins occurs sporadically, one in every 50,000 to 60,000 births, when identical twins originating from a single embryo fail to separate completely. Approximately 70% are female and most of them are stillborn. A minute percentage is conjoined at the head like the Schappells, while the majority are united at the chest, and a smaller group at the abdomen or pelvis.

The Schappells ruled out operating for separation — deemed a perilous endeavor by medical professionals—underlining their acceptance and contentment with their shared existence. Lori, in an interview with The Associated Press in 2002, voiced her belief, “You don’t mess with what God made, even if it means you enjoy both children for a shorter time.” George echoed this sentiment in the 1997 documentary, refuting the idea of separation with the simple sentiment, “Why fix what is not broken?”

As the world bids farewell to this inspiring duo, uncertainty shrouds the question of who would usurp the title of the oldest living conjoined twins. The mythical throne was previously held by Ronnie and Donnie Galyon, who passed on in 2020 at 68 years of age, and by the famed 19th-century “Siamese Twins”, Eng and Chang Bunker, who passed away at 63.

The Schappell twins leave their trailblazing legacy with their surviving father and six siblings. A private service will honor their exceptional lives, as announced by the funeral home.