The promise of a half-day off school and the jealousy of teenage friends led to this twin pair joining the ATR. Twenty-years-later, identical twins Silvana Kelly and Daniela Ahimastos are still as committed as ever to twin research.
Although they now live in different states, with Silvana (an environmental geochemist) in Brisbane and Dani (a chiropractor and mum to a toddler son) in Melbourne, they still nurture their twin bond and partnership in twin studies.
“Silvana and I joined our first study back in 1994 as keen 14-year-olds. Our school told us about a twins study on asthma at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital. It meant we could have a half-day off school – a good incentive for us - so off we went.
“I remember Silv and me running on a treadmill and then blowing into a spirometer while our heart rates were measured. It was so much fun and we felt so important, being fussed over.
“We were also checked for allergies using the forearm prick test. I remember comparing my welts and they were bigger than Silv’s, giving me extra bragging rights! The test results helped us to understand why we both suffered from hay fever.
“I remember many of our class mates were so jealous of our experience and our welts. It was then that Silv and I decided that this could be fun and registered as ATR members.”
“Although we are identical twins, we have suffered from different things. Unfortunately I was cursed with a curved spine – a result of being squashed in the womb by Dani. Dani was the one who developed bunions on her feet, causing her much grief when she buys shoes. So it was great to be invited to participate in a twin study on none other than bunions! This research asks whether or not bunions are due to hereditary or environmental factors.
“Although we live in different states, we could still join in as it required us to complete an online questionnaire about our footwear history since our teenage years. It will be interesting to read the results.”
Together, the twins say:
“Over our 20 years with the ATR, we’ve participated in many studies and really enjoyed the experiences. We both have science backgrounds and appreciate the importance of twin studies. We have learnt a lot about ourselves along the way, and met lots of twins in the process.
“We both feel very proud and fortunate to be able to contribute to health research. It’s fun to be involved and, more importantly, it improves our society’s future health and wellbeing.”