Conjoined Twins

conjoined twins, congenitally united organisms that are complete or nearly complete individuals, historically known as Siamese twins. They develop from a single fertilized ovum that has divided imperfectly; complete division would produce identical twins, having the same sex and general characteristics. Conjoined twins remain attached at the abdomen, chest, back, or top of the head, depending on where the division of the ovum has failed. In some instances the individuals are joined only by a band of musculofibrous tissue and can be separated surgically, but in other instances they share vital organs and separation may not be possible. Sometimes an ovum divides in such a way that an organism develops having one body and two heads, or one head and two sets of limbs. About half of all conjoined twins are stillborn, and many die within a week or so of birth. When they do survive, fatal illness in one dooms the other unless separation is possible. The name Siamese twins derives from the most famous of conjoined male twins, Chang and Eng, born in Siam (Thailand) of Chinese parents in 1811. They were exhibited in Barnum's circus for many years; although never separated, they married and fathered a total of 22 children. They died within 2 hours of each other in 1874. See also multiple birth.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Chang and Eng Bunker, "The Original Siamese Twins": Living, Dying, and Continuing under the Spectator's Gaze
Martin, Holly E.
Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA), Vol. 34, No. 4, December 2011
The Case of Conjoined Twins: Embodiment, Individuality, and Dependence
Kaveny, M. Cathleen.
Theological Studies, Vol. 62, No. 4, December 2001
Conjoined Twins: The Conflict between Parents and the Courts over the Medical Treatment of Children
Tierney, Heather.
Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 30, No. 4, Fall 2002
American Bioethics: Crossing Human Rights and Health Law Boundaries
George J. Annas.
Oxford University Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Conjoined Twins"
Reversal of Fortune - Re A (Conjoined Twins) and Beyond: Who Should Make Treatment Decisions on Behalf of Young Children?
Michalowski, Sabine.
Health Law Journal, Annual 2001
The Maltese Conjoined Twins: Two Views of Their Separation
London, Alex John; Knowles, Lori P.
The Hastings Center Report, Vol. 31, No. 1, January 2001
Playing God: Mary Must Die So Jodie May Live Longer
Lugosi, Charles I.
Issues in Law & Medicine, Vol. 17, No. 2, Fall 2001
The Ethics of Caring for Cojoined Twins: The Lakeberg Twins
Thomasma, David C.; Muraskas, Jonathan; Marshall, Patricia A.; Myers, Thomas; Tomich, Paul; O'Neill, James A., Jr.
The Hastings Center Report, Vol. 26, No. 4, July-August 1996
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