Although neither sibling was expected to survive for even a single day, after more than six decades living together, these two brothers sharing one body continue to thrive. They have learned to cooperate and overcome challenges in a way that most of us cannot even begin to imagine. Now 65 years old, they have become the oldest conjoined twins in history.
The world record for the oldest conjoined twins was previously set by Giacomo and Giovanni Tocci, who were born in Italy in 1877, and died in 1940 at the age of 63.
Many people wonder: If it were possible for them to be surgically separated, would they do it?
“God made us this way. Let Jesus separate us,” say the twins.
They know it’s not always easy to live life joined with another sibling, always having to deal with the other person, making even the smallest task a challenge. They even help each other shave!
For these conjoined twins, the key is cooperation to the ultimate extent. Between them, they have two sets of arms and legs, but one shared pelvis and digestive tract.
Their father, Wesley, took them on the road as an exhibition, and they soon became a star attraction. Donnie and Ronnie have nine siblings, and family support has been a key element in their quality of life.
The conjoined twins seemed to enjoy the adventure and sense of community: “When we were on the road, it was all like one big family,” said Ronnie.
In spite of all the difficulties they have faced throughout their lives, Ronnie and Donnie, known as “Siamese Twins,” were able to financially support themselves as part of various circuses and sideshows, before they went into retirement in 1991.
They even became showbiz celebrities, appearing on several television shows, such as “Jerry Springer.”
As for being two minds sharing one body, Jim, Ronnie and Donnie’s younger brother, whom they also live with, says: “They’re one body, but very much two human beings.”
Jim also shared that doctors expected them to die the first day they were born, and the brothers have amazed everyone with their longevity.
“It’s been an up-and-down road taking care of them, but worth every moment,” explains Jim, “They’re alive, they’re healthy and they’re free.”
Currently, Ronnie and Donnie live with Jim and his wife, Mary, in Beavercreek, Ohio. Jim and Mary even created a special addition to their house for the brothers.
To get around, Ronnie and Donnie have a customized wheelchair, as well as a special bed, making their unique life a bit easier.
“A day doesn’t go by that I don’t hear ‘I love you’ and ‘Thank you,’” says Mary. “If you spend time around them, you can’t help but love them.”
It sounds like the cooperation doesn’t end with Ronnie and Donnie, but is a family effort to cooperate in order for Ronnie and Donnie to live a happy, healthy, and full life.
Congratulations to Ronnie and Donnie, and thank you, Jim and Mary! With everyone’s compassion, love, and cooperation, you are an inspiration to us all.