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New York twins separated at birth for 'cruel' experiment reunite after 23 years: 'We were treated like animals'

The identical and mirror twins had been separated at birth as part of an experiment to evaluate 'nature versus nurture' effects on child development
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: Identical twins who had been separated at birth as part of a cruel experiment have spoken out about how they found each other post a random encounter at a pancake restaurant. One of the twins, Melanie Mertzel, had no idea she ever had a twin until the age of 23, when she found out she did. Melanie and her twin, Ellen Carbone, met by a bizarre coincidence just decades apart, Daily Mail reports. 

The two had been raised by different families in New York City. Melanie was working at her parents' restaurant, International House of Pancakes which is located in Brooklyn when a woman had approached her behaving in a strange manner. While speaking to 60 Minutes Australia, Melanie shared, "She saw me and couldn't understand why I didn't recognize her." Around a week later, the woman went back to the restaurant and took with her a picture of her niece, Ellen. The woman then showed the picture to Melanie's boyfriend who told Melanie, "that's you". She responded saying, "That's not me" as he insisted, "That IS you." 

Melanie responded with, "Don't tell me who I am – I know who I am." The woman left Ellen's number with Melanie for her to get in touch. When Melanie called Ellen, she was beyond shocked by how similar their voices were and the fact that their laughs were exactly the same. 

The two then started to compare their likes and dislikes and found that they were mirror twins. Melanie was left-handed and Ellen was right-handed. Melanie revealed, "Her dimple's on the left side, my dimple's on the right side - so we were like: 'wow, we're mirror images'." When the two met, Ellen had been extremely nervous so much so that she had thrown up. She had always wanted an identical twin and now, she had one. She shared, "I was very, very shy as a child, and I clung to my mother - like I would hold onto her leg, like when we went out anywhere."

"And I feel like that's because I was missing my other half, basically," Ellen said. The two had also spoken about how strange people had come to study them and give them tests. 

The twins were unaware that they were used as guinea pigs in a "cruel" 1960s study which used twins separated at the adoption agency to see how nature versus nurture determines a person's outcome. Upon making the discovery of the test, the families and the twins have been left outraged. Ellen shared, "We were treated not like humans, we were treated like animals." The pair revealed that the New York City adoption agency, Louise Wise Services only confirmed they were twins but refused to give any other information. 

As part of another study, identical triplets- Robert Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman also found each other only when they were young adults. Robert and Eddy met by chance after the two attended, the same upstate New York college. When the two reunited, the news was put out in the paper where their third brother David saw it. The three brothers had been born in Long Island, New York, and then sent to three different families. One family was wealthy, one was middle class, and the third was working class. The experiment was to study the various effects of the socio-economic environment on the development of the boys. 

The scientific study had been conducted in the 1960s by Louise Wise Services and late psychiatrist Peter Neubauer.