Ronnie and Donnie Galyon were born on October 28, 1951, in Beavercreek, Ohio. The brothers were born conjoined twins. They were bonded to each other by the abdomen.
In 2014, as Time magazine reports, Ronnie and Donnie became the world’s oldest set of conjoined twins just shy of turning 63 years old. The twins were 68 years old when they passed away on July 4, 2020.
In an interview with WHIO, Ronnie and Donnie’s brother, Jim, said that the twins were in hospice care in Dayton when they died. In another interview with MLive, Jim explained that the popular brothers supported their family for years with the income they made from appearing in carnivals and circuses “as a sideshow attraction.”
“That was the only income. They were the breadwinners,” Jim said of Ronnie and Donnie.
And when they were unable to continue carrying for themselves, Jim stepped up for his older brothers. “That’s kind of giving it back right now. I don’t do it because of that, but I feel that way,” Jim said. “They paid for us all growing up.”
Ronnie and Donnie were born healthy babies. As Jim shared they weighed 11 pounds, 11.5 ounces at birth. However, despite being healthy, doctors kept the brothers in the hospital for two years, in part to figure out if there was a safe way to separate them.
According to All That’s Interesting, Ronnie and Donnie were born with separate hearts, stomachs, and they had their own set of arms and legs. However, from the sternum to the groin, Ronnie and Donnie Galyon are connected. They share a set of lower digestive organs. Donnie was reportedly born headfirst and Ronnie emerged feet-first.
Doctors couldn’t guarantee that both Ronnie and Donnie would survive the surgery if they attempted to separate them. It was because of that their parents made the decision not to go through with the surgery.
In a past interview, Ronnie and Donnie agree with their parents, it was the right decision not to go through with the surgery. “The good Lord made us. Let our savior do it,” Ronnie said. “No surgeon’s knives,” Donnie added.
Ronnie and Donnie were also the subjects of a documentary that aired on TLC in 2010. According to Time, the brothers retired from the circus in 1991 and lived on their own till about 2010 when health issues started to arise.