Bev Boro, 53, had been working as a nursing aide for over 20 years but she’d never experienced anything before like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coronavirus was putting additional stress on hospital staff worldwide, but like everyone else, Bev was doing her best to look after those in her care.
Then, as she scanned her patient list on June 27 this year, one name stood out from all the others.
Bev’s breath caught as she checked the name again. Doris Crippen.
Before Bev had even turned six months old, a neighbour called social services after her parents went away for a week and left Bev and five of her young siblings home alone.
They were all put into foster care before being adopted out separately.
Bev never saw them, or the four half-siblings from her father’s first two marriages, again.
Over the years, Bev had managed to track down a few of her brothers and sisters, after getting their names from her biological mother.
She maintained contact with them through social media, but her eldest half-sister, Doris, who was 20 when Bev was taken away, wasn’t social media savvy and all Bev’s attempts to contact her went unanswered… until now.
‘When I saw Doris’ name on the patient board, I was so nervous. My heart was racing,’ Bev said.
‘I kept saying, “Oh my God, that must be her”.’
Back in May this year, Doris, 73, had fallen ill with what she thought was flu, but as time passed, her symptoms grew worse.
She became too weak to leave her bed and one day, while reaching for a glass of water, she fell onto the floor and broke her arm.
Without the strength to get herself up, Doris lay there for 24 hours before her son found her and rushed her to hospital.
Doris was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was so sick that she didn’t think she would survive.
Finally, after more than a month in hospital, Doris was tested again and found to be free of the virus.
She was sent to Dunklau Gardens nursing home and rehab centre to regain her strength – and that’s how she ended up as one of Bev’s patients.
Unsure how Doris would react to the news they were sisters, Bev went into her room and assisted Doris like she was any other patient, hoping her nerves weren’t obvious.
But when Bev left the room again, she realised this might be her only opportunity to finally get to know her big sister, so she decided to take a chance.
Doris is hard of hearing, so before going back to speak to her, Bev grabbed a small whiteboard.
On it, she wrote her father’s name, Wendall Huffman.
When Doris saw the words Bev had written, she didn’t skip a beat.
‘That’s my daddy,’ she exclaimed.
‘I pointed to myself and said, “He’s mine, too”,’ Bev told KETV.
Bev then pointed to her name tag and made a rocking motion with her arms to indicate that she had been just a baby when Doris last saw her.
Doris burst into tears, realising Bev was the sister she’d cuddled as a newborn and hadn’t seen in 53 years.
‘You have his eyes,’ Doris cried, referring to their dad.
For the longest time, the women just stared at each other in amazement.
Since then, Bev and Doris have spent a lot of time catching up.
They soon realised they’d been looking for each other for years.
But despite both living in the same state, the trail had kept going cold.
Now Bev, a mother of three and grandmother to five, and Doris, a mum of three and grandmother to 16, can’t wait for their families to meet.
They also plan to reunite with the other four siblings Bev has managed to track down, once the coronavirus crisis has eased.
There are still quite a few siblings for Bev to find – each of her parents was married three times and she now knows she’s one of 16!
Kevin Boro, Bev’s 32-year-old son, has already befriended Doris on Facebook and they now communicate regularly.
‘It’s crazy how without COVID-19, they never would have met,’ Kevin marvels.
After all the pain and suffering that the virus caused Doris, she now considers her diagnosis to be a blessing in disguise.
‘This here,’ she said, clutching her long-lost sister’s hand, ‘this makes up for everything. I am the happiest person in the world. I cannot believe I finally found my sister.
‘Hopefully soon, maybe we can all get together as brothers and sisters. It would be really wonderful.’