The at-home genetics and DNA testing kit known as 23andMe has been under some fire lately when users found out the company will be selling data to pharma moguls GlaxoSmithKline for the next four years. The deal will entitle GSK to comb through 23andMe’s data to research new drugs to develop, as well as to find potential patients for upcoming clinical trials.
23andMe users are divided on whether they think the company is right in prioritizing these novel treatments over selling their personal data, with some fearing that their genetic results will make it back to insurance companies. Others expressed sentiments that were well summed up by Twitter user @kokoandjune: “Big whoop. If my DNA helps others, then so be it.”
Mergers and acquisitions aside, we took a deep-dive into all the ways at-home DNA testing has turned people’s lives upside-down.
From realizing that your parents aren’t…actually your parents, to users who realized their significant others were also their relatives, scroll down for 12 people whose lives were shook by 23andMe.
1. These 72-year-old women were switched at birth.
At 72, Denice Juneski & Linda Jourdeans have discovered they were switched at birth. The two women were born in 1945 – 31 minutes apart – at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul. A random ancestry DNA test revealed they've been living each others lives. KARE [email protected] #land10kstories pic.twitter.com/SfmUdHgBu1
— Boyd Huppert (@BoydHuppert) June 10, 2018
Linda Jourdeans and Denice Juneski always felt like they didn’t fit in with the rest of their families. From physical traits like hair color, to more general qualities like athleticism, the two always wondered why they were so different from their parents and siblings. It wasn’t until Linda and Denice used 23andMe that they realized they were separated at birth and given to the wrong families back in 1945.
The first time Denice tried the DNA test kit, she shared no traits with any member of her family. When she decided to try it again, the results were the same. “Either 23andMe made a mistake, or I was switched at birth,” she shared with KARE.
In Denice’s suggested list of relatives happened to be a niece of Linda’s, who urged her aunt to do 23andMe, saying, “We believe you’ve been switched at birth.”
After some online detective work, the two realized they were born thirty minutes apart at the same hospital, and were sent with the wrong parents. For the past 72 years, they’ve been living each other’s lives and answering to each other’s names.
Denice and Linda finally met last month and are cultivating a new friendship.
2. This person whose 23andMe results led to their parents’ divorce.
Reddit user u/throwmeaway29305 writes:
I ordered myself and my dad a kit when they were on sale and we received our results a couple days ago. My mother has never really been interested in genealogy or DNA stuff so I didn’t tell her about it. The first thing my dad and I did was compare our “Ancestry Composition,” and I noticed it was a bit… off to say the least. He is highly British and Irish (most strongly connected to the UK) with a small bit of French and German. I am mostly Scandinavian (most strongly connected to Sweden) with over a quarter French and German and some Italian.
I then went to DNA Relatives and… you guessed it. He didn’t pop up on mine and I didn’t pop up on his. There was a half-sibling (sharing 26.3%) and father match however. I began freaking out and my dad got so angry. My mom came home and he confronted her about it. She lost it and admitted she knew I was some other man’s child all along and would’ve tried to stop us had she known we got the tests.
They are now divorcing which sucks. He’s now wondering if my two younger siblings are his or not.
3. This person whose life was saved by 23andMe.
Reddit user Zambookster had been trying to figure out the root of their health issues for over six years to no avail. They kept getting sicker, no matter how many cardiologists, endocrinologists, or GIs they went to — and it wasn’t until a 50% off Black Friday sale that they even considered trying out the kit.
“Little did I know that when I received my kit back eight weeks later, I was flagged as being a homogenous variant for HFE-related Hereditary Hemochromatosis, a hereditary disease where iron builds up in your organs over time,” they wrote.
“A short wait for a specific blood test later, it was confirmed that I have HFE-HH. Without 23andMe, I don’t know how many years down the road it would have been before I found out this is what I’ve been suffering from, and it could have been where I never found out until I had heart and liver failure like many people who find out later in their life. I truly can’t believe that after this many doctors and tests, a genetic test found the issue.”
4. This woman who reconnected with her father after being told he’d died.
Jenelle Rodriguez, 36, was brought up by adoptive parents and was told at a young age that her father had died in a car accident. Thinking she might be able to trace down some members of her biological family, Jenelle invested in a 23andMe kit.
Rachel Saucido had also sent out her DNA, and discovered Jenelle in the list of suggested relatives, but didn’t recognize her name. After calling her uncle Frank Granados with some questions, she startled him with the words he assumed he’d never hear: “I think I found your daughter!”
Frank and Jenelle bonded immediately. “Once I asked him questions that I had in my heart and my mind my whole life and wanted to know the truth from his side, I could feel deep in my heart that he wasn’t lying to me,” Jenelle told the LA Times. “From then on, I could feel his true love. It was so natural. It was like he was only gone for a second, like he went on vacation or something.”
The father and daughter now talk every day and are looking forward to their first Thanksgiving together in November. Jenelle also suddenly realized she has uncles, aunts and cousins she never knew existed.
“I’m looking forward to my whole life ahead with them … every holiday, every chance that we can spend time together … I’ve waited 36 years for this,” she said.
5. This person who found their identical twin.
Reddit user ifoundmytwin writes,
As my username and title implies, I found my twin! I was adopted as a baby and never knew anything about my ancestral roots or any hereditary health risks from my biological family. All my adoptive parents told me was that my bio mom was young and unprepared to raise a baby — much less two!
We have already connected through messaging and we have tons in common, along with our physical appearance. We also found a half-brother (we assume from our dad) who lives only two hours away from me who we are both excited to eventually meet. The only downside is that we live in different states. Just thought I’d share my wonderful news with everyone in this sub! I can’t share it with any adoptive family members because they have no idea I sent off my saliva sample and it’s also why I’m using a throwaway account!
6. This guy whose DNA came back as female.
“I had genetic testing done and I’m intersex. XX chromosomes and apparently I also have ovaries,” writes Reddit user f–kmylife555 in a post titled “23andme read me as genetically female but I’m male.”
7. This woman who discovered she’s biracial, and found her biological parents and siblings.
Reddit user christinaaaa999 writes:
I am adopted and grew up in a white family. I have always identified as black. I finally got the courage to take the 23andMe test and I am actually biracial, not black! I have to admit I’ve had my suspicions because I am rather light-skinned compared to most black people, and now my test proves why that is so. I also found my biological parents and four half siblings who are completely white, yet I look similar to them because we all look like our dad. My parents told me that they loved each other, but were poor and wanted to give me to a family that could take care of me.
I’m 57.1% European and 42.9% African. My bio mom had a white great grandmother, which seems to line up with my European percentage. I’m exactly half Finnish too from my dad! My husband is white so our kiddos will be approximately three quarters white and a quarter black, which is neat. I also have several nieces and nephews I’m excited to meet as well as my half siblings. I’m on cloud 9!
8. This man whose wife discovered she might have an unknown son.
“So my wife logged into her account the other day…” begins this post by 23andmethrowaway2018. He continues,
And right at the top of the DNA relatives was a Son. … Then she remembered that she donated eggs for [money] in college. She sent him a note but no word back yet. We maybe found him on Facebook but not sure. And if it’s the guy, he has a sister… maybe both are my wife’s bio kids? The boy definitely looks like her family. Unfortunately his name is a bit common so hard to know exactly.
A few other facts: my wife is in her 40’s, went to a very prestigious school (got big [money] for eggs) and the boy is 20 and lives in the state where she went to college. (But that last fact isn’t evidence that it’s him — she narrowed down the list of potential people by state. His location, age, and general appearance seem to be a match).
9. This person who just discovered something extra in common with their boyfriend.
“My boyfriend and I did these for fun and found out we were fourth cousins,” shares _muff1n_. “We both come from Mexican-born parents from different states (Durango, Nayarit, Zacatecas, and Guanajuato). Now we’re wondering what sides of our families are related. We only share 0.27% or 1 segment of DNA, but it was still shocking to see.”
10. This woman who simultaneously discovered her best friend is her sister and her dad is not her dad.
Reddit user _deafening_silence_ writes:
So my “dad” is not my biological father. I’m a sperm donor baby as well as my best friend/half-sister. Our mothers grew up as best friends and they decided to use the same sperm donor. My mom’s friend (who is my best friend/half-sister’s mom) is lesbian so, of course, she could only have a biological child through sperm donation, and my mom initially didn’t want to get married so she also chose to use a sperm donor to have a baby. They chose the same one so Holly (my best friend/sister) and I could grow up as best friends but we’d also secretly be half-sisters.
So basically, Holly and I are paternal half-sisters, but our father is not the man who raised me. My mom told me that they were planning on telling me eventually, but I sincerely doubt that’s the case. Such selfish people. I hate my mom and “dad” for lying to me.
On the bright side, I looked at my DNA relatives, which has updated today to include a half-brother who shares 25.3% of DNA with me! Looks like I probably have several half-siblings out there, including the younger brother and sister I grew up with without knowing we only share a mother. Oh well. It is what it is, I guess.
11. This woman who found her mother through 23andMe, and a bit of help from Facebook.
“I was adopted as a baby and had a great life with the people who adopted me. I was told my birth moms first name and a few details about her and apparently she sent me birthday gifts until my 5th birthday. I was curious about 23andme so I tried it out and it connected me with my birth mom’s sister. I went to Facebook and found them all there. They look exactly like me! I feel so many emotions right now and I’m not sure how to proceed. I don’t think they have connected the pieces yet but I’m sure at some point they might find me.”
12. This person who learned an interesting fact about their cousin.
MeteorMattGames writes, “My first cousin is actually my half-sister. Called my dad thinking 23andMe had it wrong based on the percentages. I laughed and said, ‘Do you have something to tell me?’ He said let’s talk on Sunday and that mom already knows.”
Have you had a DNA-testing experience turn your world upside down? Share them with us on Facebook. And if you’ve already done 23andMe, check out these ways you can use your genetic data to discover other things about yourself.