Long-lost sisters reunite after more than 50 years — all because of COVID-19 and a broken arm

A 79-year-old woman who contracted COVID-19 and suffered a broken arm ultimately found the silver lining in her misfortune: a reunion with her long-lost sibling. 

Doris Crippen thought she had come down with the flu in May. Feeling weak, she fell and broke her arm — which sent her to a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. Crippen learned there that she actually had COVID-19, and she spent weeks at the hospital recovering.

After being discharged, Crippen went to a rehab facility in Omaha. But she later wound up back at a hospital with complications from COVID-19. Doctors determined that she needed more rehabilitation to gain strength.

As fate would have it, the first rehab center was full — so she was sent to Dunklau Gardens at Methodist Fremont Health, a nursing home and rehab facility in the city of Fremont. 

Bev Boro, a medication aide at Dunklau Gardens, was reviewing patient care plans on June 27 when one name caught her eye: “Doris Crippen.”

“I thought, ‘that’s got to be who I think it is,’ because that is not a common name,” Boro said. “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this. I’m sure this is my sister.”

Boro, 53, has been searching for siblings that she was separated from as a baby. She had attempted to friend Crippen on Facebook a few years prior and had seen a picture of her, but her long-lost sister didn’t see or accept the request.

"So I had an idea of what she looked like, but I said I would know for sure when I went into her room," Boro explained.

Boro approached Crippen, who is hard of hearing, and wrote her father’s name, Wendell Huffman, on a white board.

“She said yes, and I pointed at myself and said he’s mine too,” Boro recalled. “And I did the rocking (motion) and said I’m the baby. But with wearing masks, you can’t really see. So I showed her my badge, and then she realized who I was.”

Doris Crippen (L) and Bev Boro (R) are pictured in a provided image. (Photo credit: Provided / Methodist Health System)

Boro and Crippen bear a notable resemblance, especially in their eyes. They share the same father, but have different mothers. Boro and four of their siblings were separated by the state while living in Omaha and Boro was put up for adoption when she was just 6 months old.

“I was overwhelmed and flabbergasted. I was in shock,” Crippen said of their moment of realization. “I thought why does this gal got my dad’s name on that board?”

Crippen had also been searching for “many, many years” for her siblings, to no avail.

“I always loved my brothers and sisters, and I always knew I had them — just could never find them. I kind of gave up there for awhile,” Crippen said, adding that she decided to leave it up to God or fate.

Crippen now believes her coronavirus infection was an act of divine intervention.

“It was the Lord’s blessing, and His plan that this would happen to me so I could find my siblings,” Crippen said, who added that she’s “on the road to success” in her recovery.

Collectively on their father’s side, there are 10 siblings. Boro has three from the same parents, and then Crippen.

“We still have the other five. One, I know, has passed away. So now we have four that neither one of us have met,” Boro explained. “We’re hoping that our other siblings see this, and come forth.”

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This story was reported from Cincinnati.