It’s fairly easy to say that twins have a special connection. That connection takes an entirely unique step when you’re conjoined and don’t have any other choice.
You’re forced to feel the same pain, and be together literally all the time. These Russian conjoined twins endured the unthinkable. Their incredible spirit, strength and attitude toward life when they were taking on tragedy head-on is inspiring. This is the story of the Krivoshlayapova twins.
It Was A Simple Time
Their parents lived a fairly simple life, with simple jobs and simple aspirations. Mikhail and Yekaterina Krivoshlyapova had just tied the knot and were excited to start a family.
He was a personal driver, and she was a housewife. Two jobs that seemed like the status quo in the Soviet Union at the time.
Yekaterina started showing, and her stomach started growing. Due to the size of her belly, she was told that she should probably expect twins.
In 1950, after two full days and nights trying to birth her children naturally, she underwent a cesarean section. To her surprise, she had delivered two baby girls.
The News Was Devastating
The doctors had told Yekaterina that she had delivered a mutant. Yes, a mutant. She was not shown her babies or allowed to embrace them.
She had birthed conjoined twins attached at the hip. The “mutant,” as the doctors termed the babies, were born with two heads, two torsos, four arms, and three legs.
She Was Fed Many Lies
The doctors told Yekaterina that her twins would need to be in full-time care by the State. She agreed, because that’s what she was told to do.
She was promised time to come and visit them regularly and ended up naming them Maria and Daria. She even gave them the nicknames Masha and Dasha.
The Soviet Scientist
The Soviets didn’t want Yekaterina to be able to keep custody of her children. So, they told her that they died of pneumonia.
The man behind the lies was Pyotr Anokhin. He was conducting a study about the separate roles of the nervous system and the bodies ability to adapt to extreme conditions.
Anokhin Was Exiled
His ideal subjects were conjoined twins because they could share or have separate central nervous and blood systems.
The babies were sent to the Institute of Experimental Medicine in Moscow. Anokhin ended up being exiled by Joesph Stalin because of his philosophical views on genetics, but his team kept working on the twins.
They Were Treated Like Animals
Masha and Dasha were transferred to a new medical institute where they would be experimented on and treated heinously for six years.
They were placed in a painted glass crib to isolate them from the world. They were treated like lab rats with horrific experiments taking place night and day.
It Was Basically Torture
One of the experiments involved placing the one twin in a bucket of ice to bring her body temperature to a near fatal-level, just to see how the other twin reacted.
They were also burned, starved, sleep-deprived and electrocuted to test their reflexes. They were under constant monitoring by a plethora of machines.
The New Revelation
They were poked and prodded with needles three times a day to collect blood samples.
While the twins were young, they even contracted measles. Well, Dasha did, but Masha didn’t, which was to the doctors surprise. They figured out that the girls had four kidneys, and shared a bladder, blood system, colon, and reproductive system.
It Became Clear Who The Dominant Twin Was
With that, it was found the girls had separate central nervous systems, hearts, and lungs. That made sense since only one of them would be sick at a time.
As they grew older, it became very clear that Masha was the stronger twin with higher blood pressure and clear vision.
They Were Hidden Away From Public View
Masha was left-handed, while Dasha was right-handed. Dasha also had a much weaker immune system than Dasha.
In 1956, the twins were transferred to the Central Scientific Research Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedics. They were once again hidden away for eight years in a children’s ward far from the public view.
The Rumors Started Spreading
They learned to walk while they were there. They even started getting an education. Masha was always misbehaving, though.
The teacher would send the girls out to play on the yard as punishment, which is when someone caught a glimpse of them and the rumors started spreading like wildfire around the community.
“The Two-Headed Girl”
As you can imagine, this idea of a two-headed girl scared the people in Moscow to death. The State was not happy that this was public and moved the girls again.
They were sent to northern Russia and ended up staying there for four years. They were very happy in their new home.
They Had To Go To A New School
They went to school in Northern Russia, and while there were times that the kids bullied the twins, they were mostly received very well.
This is where the stark differences between the two became very apparent. Dasha would end up suffering some very harsh ordeals at the hands of her sister, Masha, because of her temper.
They Were Two Different People
They had polar opposite personalities. Dasha was quiet and submissive, while Masha was dominant and even tomboyish.
Masha’s cruelty broke down Dasha’s spirit time and time again. But, one boy kept Dasha very happy. His name was Slava. He noticed her kindness and fell very much in love with her.
He Tried, But Failed
He tried to get Masha on his side so that he could kiss Dasha, but she wasn’t having any of it.
Masha was possessive and jealous. Dasha was so broken that she attempted suicide. This attempt also came at a time when they were graded the lowest for their disability, which meant they would never be able to work or be independent.
The girl’s had their third vestigial leg amputated to try to make them look more normal to the public who weren’t used to seeing disabled people.
Masha prevented Dasha from committing suicide. She would shout and hit her. Masha wanted to enjoy life, but she never let Dasha enjoy hers.
Reunited And It Feels So Good
They left school at age 18 before completing high school because Masha was tired of the other students. They would move back to Moscow.
Fast forward, and in 1985, they would finally meet up with their mom again. Yekaterina would meet them every week with a home-cooked meal and some cigarettes for Masha.
It Didn’t Last Long
But, Masha decided that it was time for her and Dasha to cut ties with their mother. Dasha was distraught as was Yekaterina.
Their father was never interested in rekindling any relationship and their brothers were freaked out by their appearance. The twins wanted nothing to do with either of them.
Masha Put Dasha To Work
By the time the twins were almost 40, they moved to a special facility that housed people with disabilities. They were given a small room and a single bed.
They wanted to spend money so they decided to sew diapers. Well, Masha made Dasha do it while she smoked cigs and read magazines.
Change Was Near
As soon as President Gorbachev took office, he unveiled many dark secrets from the Soviets. The twins were even made mild celebrities by appearing on TV.
The house they were living in at the time was getting turned into a mental hospital. The girls plead to the Russian people to help them get moved to a different spot because they weren’t crazy. It worked.
The Abuse Was Still Rampant
Masha had a love for vodka which meant Dasha was going to get abused. Masha couldn’t drink vodka without gagging, so she made Dasha drink it since they shared a bloodstream.
The twins were officially deemed alcoholics. After a few years, they would try to get off alcohol by seeking special treatment.
British Surgeon Lewis Spitz had approached the twins to see if they would be interested in splitting.
Dasha was full of hope and excitement. But, Masha was not having any of it. She said no right away. From the time the girls were six years old and on, it was Masha’s way or the highway.
It Seemed They Suppressed The Trauma
When a British journalist asked the girls about the trauma they had endured when they were younger, they didn’t remember.
They suppressed it. They only remembered the happy times when a nurse would come in and give them a toy. The journalist was shocked at how much of their life these girl’s didn’t know.
Distinct Reactions To Their Past
They had no idea that they were snagged from their mother from birth. Masha and Dasha had no clue that the doctors had reported them dead.
After hearing about what had happened to them, Masha screamed that they should all be shot. Dasha said that it wasn’t their fault since they were just doing their job.
Masha went ahead and wrote their autobiography in three months. The problem was that she didn’t have any of Dasha’s feelings in the book at all.
It took a few years, but Dasha started standing up to Masha. Dasha was given a boost of confidence by the British journalist who she befriended.
The Results Were Favorable
Surprisingly, the results were favorable for Dasha. Masha was starting to get put in her place more and despite how toxic they could be to each other, they clearly had a lot of love.
The journalist said that she had no doubt Masha was a psychopath. She says that she absolutely ticked all the boxes.
Dasha Was Stuck
Dasha was never able to have what she wanted. She was in an abusive relationship that she couldn’t leave. Masha didn’t want them to have a job, a mother, or a healthy life.
Masha certainly was not going to allow Dasha to have what she really wanted most — her own body.
Masha continued to live an unhealthy life. From smoking to drinking, it took a toll on not only her body, but their body.
The two had exceeded expectations, despite their upbringing, considering the fact that conjoined twins don’t have very long life expectancies. They lived until 2003 when tragedy struck the twins.
The Longest Living Conjoined Twins
Masha had been complaining of back pain, and it turned out she was having a heart attack. She ended up dying, but Dasha lived for another 17 hours.
She would end up dying after the toxic by-products from Masha’s decomposing body entered the bloodstream. They were the oldest conjoined twins when they died.