Two Nebraska sisters have reunited 53 years after one of them was born – and they have the coronavirus to thank for the joyous occasion, according to reports.
Doris Crippen, 73, said she developed what she thought was the flu in early May and spent days in her bed feeling exhausted, the Washington Post reported.
“I just kept getting weaker and weaker,” said Crippen, of Omaha, who one day fell out of her bed when she reached for a glass of water.
Crippen, who lives alone, lay helplessly on the floor for more than 24 hours before her son found her and rushed her to Nebraska Medicine, a hospital in the city, where an X-ray revealed she had broken her arm.
She also tested positive for COVID-19 and wound up spending almost a month in the hospital to recover, not knowing if she would survive, according to the newspaper.
She was then sent to a long-term rehab facility and discharged after a brief stay, but continued weakness and lung complications forced her to be taken to Methodist Hospital for additional treatment, hospital rep Claudia Bohn told The New York Post.
After her stint at Methodist, Crippen went for arm rehab at Methodist Fremont Health Dunklau Gardens, where she got the surprise of her life.
Unbeknownst to her, Bev Boro, 53, is a medication aide at the facility, where she has worked for the past 22 years. She also happens to be Crippen’s long-lost sister.
Doris Crippen (left) and Bev BoroMethodist Health System
When Boro looked over her patient list, she was stunned to see Crippen’s name.
“I kept saying, ‘Oh my God! That must be her!” Boro said during a recent news conference, the Washington Post reported, adding that she had not seen her older sister in more than half a century.
The two women share the same father – who had been married three times and had 10 children — but were born to different mothers. Crippen was raised by her mother and stepfather.
When Boro was about 6 months old, the state of Nebraska deemed her parents unfit to care for her and her three siblings, who entered foster care and put up for adoption, the paper reported.
Both women, who grew up in The Cornhusker State, knew each other’s names and spent years searching for each other. They never had any luck — until the chance encounter set in motion by COVID-19.
“When I saw Doris’s name on the patient board, I was so nervous,” Boro said. “My heart was racing.”
Bev Boro as a babyFamily photo
Since Crippen is hard of hearing, Boro carried a white board when she entered her room and wrote down their father’s name, Wendell Huffman.
“That’s my daddy,” Crippen said.
“Then I pointed to myself and said, ‘He’s mine, too,’” said Boro, who also cradled her arms back and forth to show that she was her baby sister. “Then I showed her my badge with my name on it.”
With tears welling up, Crippen told her sis: “You have his eyes,” referring to their dad, who has since died.
“I never thought I’d find her. I couldn’t sleep that night. I was just so happy,” said Crippen, who added that she considers her coronavirus-related fall “a blessing” because it reunited her with her sister.
“I am the happiest person in the world,” Crippen said. “I cannot believe I finally found my sister.”
The sisters are planning a family reunion in hopes of meeting their other siblings.
Boro said she is most looking forward to introducing Crippen to her three children and five grandchildren, according to the Washington Post.
“I can’t wait to meet my sister’s kids and grandkids,” said Crippen, who has three children and 16 grandchildren, including Samantha Crippen, 28, who had tried to help her grandmother locate her siblings.
“My mind is blown. I couldn’t be happier for my grandmother. She deserves this,” Samantha said.
Crippen’s daughter, 47-year-old Lisa Crippen, agreed, saying: “Mom has been praying to meet her siblings for so long.”
Boro’s son, Kevin, 32, noted how the deadly bug actually brought good news in this unlikely case.
“It’s crazy how without COVID-19, they never would have met,” he said.