Abbigail and Isabelle Carlsen: Where Are The Former Conjoined Twins Now? 

Abbigail and Isabelle Carlsen were born on November 29, 2005, to Amy Carlsen and Jesse Carlsen. The twin sisters spent the first six months of their life conjoined at the chest and abdomen – they shared a liver, shared an intestine, and Belle’s heart was lodged into Abby’s chest. 

On May 12, 2006, a group of surgeons at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota set out to give these two sisters their own lives – ones that they could enjoy together, from a distance. The surgery required the assistance of 17 surgeons and took 12 hours from start to finish – it wasn’t easy, but it was a success!

Three years later, in June 2009, the Post-Bulletin caught up with the Carlsen family following a three-year checkup at the Mayo Clinic. The girls started the interview by introducing themselves before their mother gave a brief update on the recovery process and how her daughters have developed since the surgery.

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“I guess I always thought they’d be fine, but when people see them, they can’t believe that that’s them,” Amy Carlsen said about her twin daughters, Abbigail and Isabelle Carlsen. She was surprised the surgery didn’t hold them back over the past three years, adding that they were both walking by 11 months old. 

By three years old, the girls were already showing an interest in gymnastics – much to the delight of their parents, who emphasized the role gymnastics has played in building their core strength and shoulders. According to Mom and Dad, the twins did everything together and shared a very close relationship. 

At the time (2009), they described Isabelle as a very focused and committed 3-year-old – when she did something, she was all-in. Meanwhile, Abbigail was the better-mannered child with a shorter attention span. Belle’s favorite colors were pink and purple, but Abby’s favorite colors were pink, green, and yellow. 

Amy and Jesse Carlsen were also asked about the attention their family was receiving. They were happy to know their daughters’ story was bringing awareness to a rare surgery that can save lives and happy that their story was so well-documented because they get to use it as a collection of their family history. 

Where Are Abbigail and Isabelle Carlsen Today?

On May 12, Abbigail and Isabelle Carlsen celebrated 17 years of being separated and will celebrate their 18th birthday on November 29. Several news outlets have caught up with the twin sisters in years past – more notably CBS News in May 2016 and The Bulletin in January 2017 – to see how they’re doing. 

While you could barely tell them apart from one another in 2009, things were much different in 2016 and 2017 – and they liked it that way. “Every night we look in the mirror in our room, and we’re like, how do people get us mixed up?” Abby said in 2016. At the time, they were both still interested in gymnastics. 

In 2017, they talked about needing Gore-Tex implants to protect the gaps left in their chest walls and Abbigail required a rather harsh surgery to reconnect her digestive system. They also expressed how competitive the twin sisters were – always comparing their grades in school and their artistic creations.  

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As for Mayo Clinic, they’re proud of their work with Abbigail and Isabelle Carlsen, especially since a lot of it was experimental. “It’s a revolution in medicine, and we started that 11 years ago with the Carlsens,” said Dr. Christopher Moir, who led the team of surgeons who operated on them in 2006.

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