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Seeing double

Sarah (left) and Kara Ye display their matches for medical residencies. (Submitted photo)

Twins Kara and Sarah Ye will both study ophthalmology after they graduate this May

Kara and Sarah Ye have spent most of their lives together.

The 26-year-old twins have been a dynamic duo since they grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They went to the same grade schools and eventually the same university. And both studied at the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership. But this summer, the Ye sisters will separate when they begin residency programs in different parts of the country.

Being a twin

At first glance, the Ye sisters undoubtedly look alike—both have long, dark hair and are around the same height. But they don’t know if they are fraternal or identical twins.

The Ye Sisters, age 2, in JiaoZhou, China (Submitted photo)

“Our parents never got a test to tell if we were identical,” said Kara. “We did look very similar when we were young, but as we got older, we started looking a bit different.”

“When we first meet people, they have a hard time telling us apart, but I think as they get to know us, it’s easier,” said Sarah.

The sisters say they both like being one half of a set, that it’s like having a built-in teammate for life.

And what about the theory of twin telepathy – is it real?

The Ye Sisters visit Tallulah Gorge. (Submitted photo)

They admit they sometimes say the same thing at the same time, but Kara said an incident in the second grade has remained in her memory for all these years.

“I had cut my finger with scissors, and the next morning, Sarah told me she had felt something in her finger, too. I was like, woah is this telepathy?” said Kara.

“I don’t remember that,” Sarah said with a laugh.

On the same path

The twins’ closeness continued through college. Both sisters attended Emory University and majored in neuroscience and behavioral biology.

“Our parents thought it would be easier for us to be in the same place,” said Kara.

“They wanted us to be together in case something happened so we could have someone close by,” said Sarah.

Even though the sisters were on the same campus, they said their independence blossomed in college, where they had different schedules and lived separately.

“We didn’t take that many classes together,” said Kara, “and we didn’t interact that much, and we were comfortable with that.”

(Submitted photo)

After graduating from Emory, the sisters took two gap years before pursuing medical school. They worked in an emergency room and then an intensive care unit. They worked with cardiology and urology, and eventually at an ophthalmology office.

“I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was little,” said Sarah. “The fact that people come to you, and they trust you to help them. It feels good to be able to help someone.”

“My earliest memory is when we had to dress up as our future career in second grade, and I dressed up as a doctor,” said Kara. “I really enjoy helping people and making them feel better and being in clinic and the hospitals. I just enjoy talking to people and learning their stories.”

Both sisters were accepted to the medical partnership’s Class of 2024, where they once again lived separately (as neighbors) and shared custody of their 16-year-old dog, Bagel. They liked having their own space while also having the opportunity to see each other and study together whenever they wanted.

The next journey

When the Ye sisters walk across the stage at their graduation ceremony on Saturday, they will be the first set of twins to graduate from the medical partnership.

It also marks the last time they will be together academically. Kara will be returning home to Louisiana for her residency program at LSU-New Orleans, and Sarah will be heading north to Kresge Eye Institute in Michigan.

“We did want to go to the same location, but in the end, we are OK with being apart,” said Kara.

“I think it’s actually a good thing that we didn’t match at the same location,” said Sarah. “We get to compare different trainings, and we will get to share those experiences with each other.”

But both sisters will be entering the field of ophthalmology. They said that working at the ophthalmology clinic during their gap years before medical school solidified what specialty they wanted to pursue.

“We were open to exploring other fields, but we were pretty set on ophthalmology,” said Kara. “Out of all the senses, I think our vision is the one we rely on most, so in my opinion it is the most important.”

“Being able to look into the eye and look at the brain through a slit lamp is amazing,” said Sarah. “And I like having both the clinic side and the surgery side.”

After they finish their residency programs, the sisters see themselves reuniting once again.

“I think Kara and I have a similar plan on what we want to do with our careers. After residency, we probably want to stay in the academic setting for a bit, and then potentially open a clinic together. It’s something we’ve been thinking about,” said Sarah.

Even though the sisters are about to embark on their first separate journeys, they are excited about and aren’t apprehensive about doing it alone.

“I will miss having her close by,” said Sarah.

And Kara chimed in, “And we can always talk on the phone.”