Lori and George Schappell, world’s oldest conjoined twins, dead at 62

Conjoined twins Lori and George Schappell.

READING, Pa. — Lori and George Schappell, the world’s oldest conjoined twins, died on April 7. They were 62.

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Their deaths were confirmed in joint obituaries published by Leibensperger Funeral Homes in Hamburg, Pennsylvania. No cause was given.

According to Guinness World Records, the twins, at 62 years, 202 days old, were nine years older than the second oldest female conjoined twins.

George came out as transgender in 2007, according to The Associated Press. After George Schappell came out, they became the first set of same-sex conjoined twins to identify as different genders, Guinness wrote.

“When we were born, the doctors didn’t think we’d make 30, but we proved them wrong,” Lori said in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer when they turned 50.

They were born as twin girls Lori and Dori Schappell in West Reading, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 18, 1961, according to their obituary. The were two of eight children born to Franklin G. Schappel and the late Ruth G. Schappell, People reported.

The siblings were craniopagus twins -- born with partially fused skulls but distinct brains -- with Lori facing one way while George faced in the opposite direction, WFMZ-TV reported. Because George was 4 inches shorter than Lori and suffered from spinal bifida, Lori wheeled him around in a wheelchair, according to the television station.

The siblings shared vital blood vessels and 30% of their brains, according to Guinness World Records.

The siblings appeared on television talk shows through the years and also in a 2004 episode of the FX medical drama series “Nip/Tuck,” according to IMDb.com.

George performed as a country music singer and did shows across the United States, in Europe and Japan, the Inquirer reported. At one point, George had taken the name Reba after his musical idol, Reba McEntire, because he disliked their rhyming names, according to Guinness World Records.

Lori, a champion bowler, gave up the sport so George could pursue a singing career. Lori had been engaged to be married but her fiancé died in an automobile accident, the Inquirer reported

“When I went on dates,” Lori told the newspaper, “George would bring along books to read.”

Separating the twins was considered risky, but Lori told the AP in a 2002 interview that she did not believe such an operation was necessary.

“You don’t mess with what God made, even if it means you enjoy both children for a shorter time,” she said.

When asked whether they wanted to be separated, George said “absolutely not.”

“My theory is: Why fix what is not broken?” he said in a 1997 documentary, according to the Inquirer.

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