TODAY   |  January 24, 2014

College friends find out they’re half-sisters

Mikayla Stern-Ellis, 19, Emily Nappi, 18, joined TODAY to tell the story of how they realized they had the same sperm donor, and were related. They met on Facebook before attending Tulane University and recently confirmed the relationship. “It’s so crazy walking around campus calling each other sisters,” said Stern-Ellis.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> out like a hollywood movie . ever have a friend that seems so much like you you swore you could be related? well, what if you discovered, actually, that was the case. college freshmen kayla and emily had a few things in common, their sense of style, love of theater and science, and the decision to trek all the way from california to louisiana to attend tulane university , their perfect school. it was at tulane they met this fall. they shared something else quite unique. they were both conceived through anonymous sperm donors from colombia, south america . hearing the story and seeing the resemblance in pictures, kayla's mom suggested the girl compare donor numbers. and lo and behold.

>> sisters .

>> sisters . bound by friendship, blood and destiny, mckayla just changed her facebook page and profile picture to show the world her best birthday present ever.

>> mackayla and emily are with us this morning. sisters . does that still catch you off guard?

>> definitely weird. it's crazy walking around campus calling each other sisters .

>> it's one coincidence after the other. you meet online in some kind of a roommate questionnaire for tulane. and you find out you've got a little bit in common. you met at school, but you weren't best friends , right?

>> we didn't know each other that well. we could be really compatible as friends, but never at the right place at the right time. we've gotten a lot closer recently.

>> yeah. i had her number, which is how we ended up communicating towards winter break .

>> and some of your friends noticed the resemblance and would say you guys almost like you could be related?

>> yeah. i think over the summer, i posted a status about my colombia sperm donor and she messaged me and said i don't want to be crazy, but i also have a colombian sperm donor . wouldn't it be funny if we were sisters ?

>> before that, did either of you dare to think it was possible you were related?

>> no.

>> no. when she posted that status, i was like, that's too much coincidence. i messaged her and my family and went through all her pictures. and i was like, do we look enough alike? could we be related?

>> and one of your moms said why don't you check the donor number ?

>> yeah, my mom over winter break . we were in the same position taking the picture and we looked a lot alike. and my mom said you should really check the donor numbers.

>> just describe, emily , for me, the moment you realized the number was the same.

>> i panicked. i thought she was kidding. i freaked out and i texted her, you're joking with me. and she told me she wasn't and i started running around the house screaming and telling everybody, calling people.

>> and you?

>> i was sitting in the dermatologist's office and it was really quiet and i wanted so bad to scream, but i just -- it was mind blowing. i didn't know what to do.

>> you guys, as i said, you were acquaintanc acquaintances, not best friends , now you find out you're sisters . how does the relationship in real terms change overnight?

>> well, i mean, this whole -- the media has picked it up and ran with it. the only interactions we get to have are like 3:00 in the morning, this person called they want an interview. we have to go here.

>> we see each other multiple times a day now and a lot closer.

>> was it ever awkward? i think people assume you're going to go from acquaintances to very best friends overnight. that doesn't just happen.

>> yeah.

>> have there been awkward moments.

>> i think the first time we saw each other at first, we didn't know what to do. but since we're so compatible and we have a lot in common, i think really quickly we became best friends because that's what we would've done even if we weren't sisters .

>> and i think there was a moment when we were sitting at dinner and i was like, i don't know your favorite color or anything about you. so we've been catching up. but i already tell her i love and it's been two weeks.

>> this is not just between the two of you. you each have families.

>> exactly.

>> how are those families going to now react to this news?

>> well, coming to new york, our families met for the first time. it's really, really cool to gain more family and --

>> they're really excited to merge. they're hanging out without us a lot.

>> yeah.

>> do you want to try to find out who that donor was?

>> not any time soon.

>> i don't have any interest. i'd like to know what he looks like but i don't have any interest in finding him.

>> i knew i wanted to find him some day. and when i turned 18, i was determined to find him. but since this has happened, emily is more than i could hope for.

>> one step at a time. you found each other.

>> exactly.

>> you two are great.