The inspiring story of a woman with 4 legs

Akhil Aravind
Josephine Myrtle CorbinWikimedia

Josephine Myrtle Corbin was born with an extremely rare medical condition in 1868 - dipygus. She had two separate pelvises that separated at the waist.

Dipygus is a severe congenital disease where the body parts into two (left and right) along the torso with the duplicate pelvis and limbs. The occurrence of this disease is so infrequent that only 14 cases had been reported worldwide as of 2006.

According to Corbin’s mother, her birth was normal except that it was a breech presentation delivery. After three weeks, she showed signs of a fit child who ‘nursed healthily’ and was ‘thriving well.’

Corbin’s twin has a completely developed body from the waist down but was malformed, with only three toes on each foot. She could control her twin’s legs but couldn’t walk with them. Also, due to her clubbed foot, she couldn’t walk properly herself.

Despite difficulties, when Corbin turned 13, she joined a sideshow circuit under the nickname the ‘the Four Legged Girl from Texas.’

She was an intelligent girl and even deformity can’t stop her from succeeding in life. At the age of 19, she married James Clinton Bicknell and went on to have five children.

In medical literature, Corbin’s anomaly was given different terms and one of the doctors described her as ‘female, belonging to the monocephalic, ileadelphic class of monsters by fusion.’

She died in Texas in 1928 of a bacterial infection. Her casket was covered in concrete to prevent corpse theft. Many medical experts intended to purchase her corpse for examination.

Today the condition of dipygus can be diagnosed before birth and can be treated surgically.

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