Monday, March 8, 2010

Parasitic and Vanishing Twins

Parasitic twins and vanishing twin conditions fascinate me because nature can take some freaky turns and, as someone in the medical industry, I'm proud of the things we're capable of doing nowadays to help those suffering to have productive and lengthy lives.

If you ever saw the stylish thrilled by Brian De Palma called “Sisters” and starring Margot Kidder, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen the movie—it’s a definite must-see.

Parasitic twins involve twins in which one has become attached to the other, but is nonviable and yet has to live off the nutrients and blood supply of the viable twin—at the expensive of that twin’s health. Vanishing twins are a similar condition, except in their case, the parasitic twin does not survive and is assimilated by the body of the viable twin so that it develops usually scar tissue around this “foreign” element in his/her body.

Believe it or not, the vanishing twins occur in about 1 out of every 8 multifetus pregnancies and the majority of times the host twin has no idea there is a remnant of a dead twin within. There are only about 100 documented cases of parasitic twins in the world, however.

The beautiful little sweetheart girl (above) born with four arms and four legs was believed by her village to be a hindu goddess reincarnated. Her parasitic twin was fused to her spine and was compromising her blood supply. It took exceptional surgery and bracing, but the girl is learning to walk.

Long ago, those with parasitic twins were given a death sentence. Surgery cutting off blood supplies to the parasitic twin were just too risky. Nowadays, it most can be operated on and survive quite fine.

As I've mentioned before, I was born with a second earlobe on my left ear and always felt like a strange freak with kids having all kinds of nasty comments about me, but when I started modeling, I actually pierced that lobe and wore two earrings to draw attention to it. As I believe in writing my characters for my fiction, your weakness is also your greatest strength and your greatest strength is also your weakness. I suspect this little girl above is quite the wise and strong young girl.


  1. OOOOOOOOOOO I had one of these... didn't know it until a problem developed when I was in my thirties.

    HERE'S the real kicker.... it's fairly common... only most people never know because it is completely absorbed and therefore no problems or medical intervention is needed.... so they never know.

    It's common...... but still weird.

  2. @eloh;
    Isn't it intriguing? People really don't know about it until some medical issue or imaging uncovers it. I find it intriguing. I always wanted a twin, but then also feared the concept. I get annoyed around people who are too much like me, so I think seeing myself in someone else would annoy the hell out of me.

  3. Yeah, well I evidently had one, but I ate most of it and what got left behind developed a little fluid sack around it and hid behind stuff in my throat for thirty some years. When it had gathered too much fluid it herniated the muscles in the neck and started "popping out". There was never any pain or sensation of any kind.

    One day I was standing in front of the mirror brushing my hair (very long and thick) and when my head snapped back my eyes were still looking in the mirror and I saw something "jump out" on my neck...

    I looked and leaned my head back and out it came again... but with my head in a normal position..nothing.

    Thing was about the size of a goose egg. Had to have it cut out because it was essentially a tumor... only to find out that it was a left over digestive system from the unknown twin.

    I was VERY impressed with myself, until the doctor told me this kind of thing was quite common.

  4. Wonderful story. There was an episode of South Park on this and every time I hear about this I hear the little song the made up for that episode in my head. It's really terrible.

  5. Chilling. For people who have never heard of a vanishing twin, it can seem very very crazy, but it really a common situation. Did you ever feel a "loss" when it was removed? If you haven't seen the movie "Sisters" you might want to see it. Very chilling. You're lucky it was in a place that wasn't compromising. On a side story, I heard about this woman who for 40 years carried her dead baby in her uterus. She was scared to have the baby and go into labor and somehow she just didn't. The body encased the baby and it was mummified inside her all that time. Wow.

  6. Jessica;
    I admit to never watching South Park--I don't know what it is about me, but I didn't like cartoons that much even as a kid, with the exception of Scooby Doo and Johnny Quest and that was short-lived. Everyone tells me to watch it. I tried for an episode or two, but I didn't get it. My buddies refer to episodes all the time and it goes right past me. I have to admit, though, I'd like to hear that song!

  7. WOW @eloh, what an amazing story. I saw all these kids on TV and found that I couldn't stop watching their stories. I didn't realize that these type of twins are more common than we thought. I remember seeing a movie when I was very young called "Manster". A man had an evil head growing on his shoulders basically making him a two-headed man. That movie really scared me and I had nightmares about having a second head days afterwards. I will have to look that movie up to see what the plot (if it had one) was all about because I can't remember.

  8. Julie;
    That movie sounds awesome--I gotta check that out. I was looking online and they actually have a parasitic twin costume--a dude with a little head on his shoulder.

  9. I had heard that this is pretty common. I think they call the "tumors" formed by absorbed twins teratomas. (I could be wrong. Don't quote me!)

  10. I have heard people use that term which covers it. I believe teratomas are comprised of cells which can be from your own body or that of an invading body. Fascinating condition, huh?

  11. I saw the TV special about that one little girl with the eight limbs. She was practically treated like a god. I found that interesting how her condition was seen as something so positive.

  12. The one in eight thing is real. The surviving twin in this situation is known as a "womb twin survivor". AS you say the survivor often has no idea, but strangely enough it comes up in all kinds of ways: in psychotherapy, kinaesiology, or it just jumps into your mind- "I once had a twin!" I found my lost twin brother at the age of 57. He was aborted, but I lived.

  13. Wow!!...Very interesting and informative...I didn't know that this condition was so common...its rather creepy...but creepy always seems to hold my interest...

    SpOOky Dreams my Friends