Taylor Muhl has been fascinated by twins since she was a little girl, and part of her always hoped that she had her own twin sister.
“When I was around six years old, I would always ask my mom if I had a twin. She was so confused by it,” she said, according to The Daily Mail. “I even wanted to play twins with my girlfriends all the time, having us dress the same way.”
But it wasn’t until 2009 that Muhl, now 33, learned that her suspicions had been right all along.
Muhl had always been curious about her stomach, as she had two different skin tones that split right down the middle.
For most of her life, Muhl had just assumed that the reddish skin tone on one side of her stomach was just a birthmark, but a program she saw on TV changed everything.
According to The Daily Mail, Muhl was watching a documentary on Chimerism when she saw a baby that had almost the same exact birthmark that she did.
“I fell out of my chair,” she said. “There was a baby who had the same line as I did.”
As it turns out, that “birthmark” was actually the result of Muhl absorbing her fraternal twin in the womb.
Chimerism is so rare that she wasn’t even tested for it until she met with a throat doctor who had worked on Ripley's Believe It or Not! cases in the past.
Once a DNA test confirmed that Muhl really did have Chimerism, all of the symptoms she had been experiencing for her whole life finally made sense.
Because she had absorbed her fraternal twin in the womb, Muhl was found to have two blood streams and immune systems, which likely explains why she always seemed to be hit twice as hard during cold and flu season—having two immune systems means both can weaken from illness.
Ever since Muhl found out about her diagnosis, she has tried to hide the truth. But she’s finally ready to embrace her unique story.
“I don't want to be a human Guinea pig or viewed as a circus freak,” Muhl said. “I had always kept my stomach a secret, covering it up or having photographers Photoshop it out.”
“But now I want to embrace the way I look. I want to inspire people to feel beautiful and confident with their difference,” she added.
While there are only about 100 known cases involving Chimerism to date, medical experts say that in some of these cases woman can have such different DNA from their own children that they will actually fail maternity tests.
According to The Daily Mail, this happened in 2002 when a woman named Karen Keegan “discovered that her ovaries held different genes to her blood cells, and that the true genetic mother of her two sons was a twin whom she absorbed in the womb.”