SARASOTA — Two orphaned sisters separated decades ago in Korea have been reunited after miraculously getting hired on the same floor of a southwest Florida hospital.
Holly Hoyle O'Brien was adopted by an American couple in 1978 when she was 9 years old. A few years earlier, her biological father had wandered into the path of a speeding train and she was forced to identify his body. After that, she went to live in an orphanage in South Korea. Her stepmother had taken her younger half-sister years earlier and left.
O'Brien grew up in a happy home in Alexandria, Va., with three sisters and six brothers. Still, something was missing. One night she woke up in tears, telling her parents, "My daddy died, I have a sister, we need to find her."
Her adoptive mother contacted the orphanage but they had no record of a biological sister.
"But in my heart, I knew," said O'Brien, now 46. "I knew she was out there somewhere."
Her sister, Meagan Hughes, barely remembers her mother or the Korean orphanage where she eventually ended up. She was also adopted by an American family and grew up in Kingston, N.Y., about 300 miles from where her sister lived in Virginia.
Earlier this year, O'Brien was hired at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte, working on the fourth floor with the medical surgical unit. Two months later, Hughes, who had been working as a physical therapy assistant, was hired.
"One of the patients told me there was another nurse, named Meagan, who was from Korea. She said you should talk to her, maybe you're from the same town," said O'Brien.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports the two instantly connected and soon the similarities started adding up. DNA tests confirmed their suspicions.
"I'm like, this can't be," O'Brien said. "I was trembling, I was so excited, I was ecstatic."
When Hughes finally heard the news she said, "I was in shock, I was numb. I have a sister."
O'Brien does not have children but is now an aunt to two nieces. She's already excited about the holidays.
"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 through tears.