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By Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi

Ava Wong ’15 and Hannah Fukushima love carbs, sweets and Asian food. They enjoy crocheting, reading and science (both wound up in the medical field).

As it turns out, they also share DNA.

But although they are biological sisters, they met in person for the first time in December. Both girls had been adopted from the same orphanage in Hefei, the capital of Anhui Province in eastern China, when they were infants.

Four years ago, Ava, 24, did a 23andMe genetic test and analysis, which, in part, compares the DNA of everyone in its database to predict possible relationships. “I was on the site on September 27 last year, and it said Hannah was likely my sister,” Ava recalls. “Getting that news was surprising and exciting! Typically, I don’t ever contact strangers, but I wanted to make that connection.”

Hannah, 23, had taken the 23andMe test the month prior. She responded to Ava’s message on the site the next day, as soon as she saw it. They exchanged personal contact information and made plans to meet in December when Ava took a holiday break from school (she is enrolled in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri).

The newfound sisters met twice: first, for a hike and smoothies; then for lunch at Ava’s Kailua home. Since then, they’ve been delighted to find more things in common; for one thing, not only were they both raised in Hawai‘i, their alma maters are in close proximity: Ava attended Mid-Pacific and Chaminade University; Hannah, Roosevelt High School and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. They’ve continued to text and Snapchat and are looking forward to Ava’s next trip to Hawai‘i, probably in December.

“Finding out I have a sister is such a blessing,” says Hannah, a registered nurse in The Queen’s Medical Center’s oncology unit. “Ava wants to come home after she graduates, and I hope that happens. It would be wonderful if we could spend more time together and get to know each other better, especially since we’ve already lost more than 22 years.”