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Sometimes a chance meeting can seem almost like destiny.

Holly Hoyle O'Brien and Meagan Hughes were both hired as nurses at Doctors Hospital in Sarasota, Florida, within months of each other, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

They both worked on the hospital's fourth floor, which was home to the medical surgical unit, and they first met when a patient told O'Brien there was another nurse from Korea at the hospital, suggesting they get acquainted.


Meagan Hughes on the left; Holly Hoyle O'Brien on the right. All GIFs via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The women began to realize they shared a very similar history.

After discovering they were both from Korea, the pair noticed they had other details in common — spending part of their childhood in orphanages, being born in the same city, and being listed as "abandoned" on orphanage paperwork.

Images via video by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

They had both also been adopted by American families. O'Brien's birth name was Pok-nam Shin, and she'd been adopted by a family in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1978, when she was 9 years old. Hughes, who is two years younger than O'Brien, was born Eun-Sook Shin, and she was adopted in 1976. Hughes grew up in Kingston, New York.

When O'Brien and Hughes discovered they both had "Shin" as their last name as children in South Korea, they wondered if they could be related.

O'Brien remembered having a younger sister as a child, though her paperwork from the orphanage didn't list a biological sister. "I just had this curiosity that I said, 'We need to do a DNA test,'" Hughes told the Herald-Tribune. Driven by curiosity, they decided to go ahead with the test.

The DNA test revealed something shocking — O'Brien and Hughes were sisters who were separated more than 40 years ago.

"I printed out the paper and I was completely stunned," O'Brien told People about the test results. "I said, 'This can't be.'" O'Brien told the Herald-Tribune that she "cried and cried" after hearing the news that she'd finally found her sister.

After confirming the news with the lab over the phone, O'Brien texted Hughes.

As it turns out, the girls had the same father. O'Brien knew him — she says he was an alcoholic and was hit by a train and killed when she was a child. They each had different birth mothers; O'Brien remembered that she had a younger sister, while Hughes was too young to remember her birth parents or her half-sister.

Now, Hughes and O'Brien are more than close work friends — they're family.

O'Brien says she is excited to spend the holiday season with Hughes and her two children, who are now O'Brien's nieces. O'Brien has no children of her own and feels blessed to have newfound family.

"I have this very strong belief that God must be, like, whatever I've done, I must've done something good in my life," O'Brien said to the Herald-Tribune.

We've all heard of strange coincidences, but Hughes and O'Brien's story is truly amazing.

It's hard to say what drew these sisters together, whether it was fate or just their love of the nursing field and helping others. But for everyone who has a sister or a brother, you can imagine the wonderful feeling they must have felt when they were reunited.

Watch the moving video from the Herald-Tribune here:

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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