World

Colleagues turn out to be sisters

South Korean orphans adopted by American families reunited after working at same hospital

Two orphaned South Korean sisters were recently reunited by chance in Florida.

They were hired by the same hospital for 40 years as nursing assistants after their adoptions by different sets of American parents, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

Ms Holly Hoyle O'Brien, 46, and her half-sister Meagan Hughes, 44, were orphaned in their native Pusan, South Korea, in the mid-1970s when their alcoholic father was hit by a train, the sisters told the paper.

Neither can recall their mothers, Reuters reported.

Ms Hughes, whose birth name is Shin Eun Sook, was adopted first in 1976 and grew up in Kingston, New York.

Ms O'Brien, or Shin Pok Nam, was adopted two years later and went to live in Alexandria, Virginia.

She contacted the orphanage in South Korea years later but could find no records of Eun Sook, the paper said.

They reunited this year after both were hired just months apart at Sarasota's Doctors Hospital.

Ms Hughes had been living in the area since 1981, after her family moved there.

Ms Holly arrived in Sarasota in 2005.

FRIENDSHIP

The two women worked the same 7am to 7.30pm shift and struck up a friendship quickly.

The coincidences began stacking up.

Both had "abandonment" listed on their orphanage paperwork and both were adopted by American families.

Ms O'Brien told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune: "I thought, this is too good to be true. I said we've got to do the DNA test, it's the only way we'll get the truth out of the whole thing."

She ordered DNA kits from Canada and the women did mouth swabs, which were sent back to Canada in early August.

The match was positive.

Ms O'Brien told the paper: "I was trembling, I was so excited. I was ecstatic."

Her half-sister was just as surprised. She said: "When I heard from Holly, my first reaction was, 'Oh, my God.' I was in shock, I was numb. I have a sister."

Doctors Hospital chief executive officer Robert Meade said: "We are thrilled to have Holly and Meagan as members of our healthcare family, and we look forward to continuing to support them as they reconnect after so many decades 
apart."

Their story, however rare, is not without precedent.

In July, the New York Times reported the case of two pairs of Colombian identical twins who were mixed up at birth due to a hospital error and raised by separate families as fraternal twins, only to be reunited at age 24 after friends spotted the uncanny resemblance.

In 2013, two Florida-born women adopted by different parents discovered each other in a writing class at Columbia University, according to media reports.

South KoreaUncategorisedorphansAdoption