Edwarda O’ Bara passed after 42 years in coma , as the longest coma patient in what could be the saddest story ever, yet inspiring and full of love . The end came on November 21, months after she turned 59 years of age. The ‘Sleeping Snow White’ joins her parents in heaven.
Edwarda O’ Bara was a happy, chirpy 16 year old after she slipped into diabetic coma, after a bout of pneumonia in 1970. Her last words to her mom, Kaye, were ‘promise you won’t leave me’
Edwarda’s mom lived up to her promise, and died at the age of 80 in 2008. The woman’s father passed away from heart attack, caused due to stress due to her ailment, in 1977. Edwarda’s siter Colleen took care of the girl full-time and carried on doing so, after their mother died.
‘She closed her eyes and joined my mom in Heaven,’ Colleen said with a tear in her eye. Edwarda was a spirited high school student who suddenly contracted pneumonia in 1970, threw up medicine and went into diabetic coma. Her family says that in the early hours of January 3, 1970; she woke up shaking and in great pain because the oral insulin that she had been taking, didn’t reach her blood stream.
When she was rushed to the hospital and was in herbed, she turned to her mother, Kaye O’Bara and pleaded with her to be with her. ‘Promise me you won’t leave me,’ Edwarda begged of her mom who replied, ‘Of course not. I would never leave you, darling.’ The parents never expected that there awaited a long ordeal before her.
For more than 35 years, Kay O’ Bara remained constantly by her daughter’s bedside. She would only sleep for one and a half hour in a day. The finances of the family were draining towards hospital care and medicines but the mother did not institutionalize the child. Even though Kaye died at the age of 80 on March 7, 2008; she never gave up the hope that one day her daughter would awake from her coma.
After her mother died, Edwarda’s sister Colleen assumed the responsibility of looking after her sisters full-time at their home in Miami Gardens. She quit her job as a horse trainer to take full time care of her sister. She said, “I didn’t give a second thought. She is my sister and I love her.”
Colleen would constantly speak to her sister, braid the grey hairs, suck the mucus from her sister’s throat to allow her to breath. Edwarda’s body had to be turned every two hours to keep away to prevent bedsores; she was administered insulin and fed through a tube, as a part of hospital care. Family and friend would visit, play music and read to the woman.
Kaye O’Bara a pious Catholic felt the presence of the Virgin Mary in her daughter’s room. Dr. Wayne Dyer, taken up by the love and unshaken faith of the family, wrote a book, , ‘A Promise Is A Promise: An Almost Unbelievable Story of a Mother’s Unconditional Love and What It Can Teach Us.’ This book eventually led to the world knowing more about the struggle of the family. Visitors from around the world came and encouraged the ailing woman and gave support to her family. ‘I had to learn to let strangers in,’ Colleen O’Bara said, ‘because they aren’t strangers.’
Colleen says, “Edwarda is the best sister in the whole wide world. She taught me about unconditional love that I couldn’t say I had it before. She taught me about patience, that I didn’t have before. I learned so much from taking care of my sister. It’s like I grew up overnight.’
Colleen had friends and family coming over on Edwarda’s 59th birthday on April this year. She updated friends and supporters on her sister’s condition on Facebook. ‘My mom’s spirit was so strong that we all felt her with us,’ Colleen added.
‘She is still making different sounds and is so much more aware of her surroundings,’ the sister wrote in a posting in October. ‘When I am talking to her I have her total attention, I can tell by the look in her eyes. This just really makes me smile.’
Even though Colleen was positive about her sister’s improvement, she felt that on Tuesday, Edwarda was having trouble with food intake. By Wednesday, her condition seemed to be getting better and Colleen told her that she was going to grab a cup of coffee. Colleen says, ‘I noticed her looking directly at me and gave me the biggest smile I had ever seen.’ By the time, she returned with the coffee, Edwarda has passed away. ‘She then closed her eyes and joined my Mom in Heaven,’ Colleen said.
Edwarda is survived by her sister, nephew Richard O’Bara and great-nephew Joseph Michael O’Bara.
A person is said to be in coma or in a comatose condition, if they are unconscious for more than six hours. While in coma, the patient cannot be woken up, they may appear to be awake but they cannot consciously move, speak, hear or feel. 40 percent of comas are induced by drugs, while 25 percent cases are due to oxygen not reaching the brain and 20 percent is influenced due to stroke. Trauma to the head, irregular glucose levels and under nutrition are other reasons for coma in 15 percent cases. Coma can last for few days or may even prolong for years.
The second longest coma surviving patient
Elaine Epostio, of Tarpon Springs, Florida was in coma for second longest period, after Edwarda O’ Bara. She was 6, when she was anesthetized for an appendectomy on August 6, 1941. She never woke up from operation. Her last words to her mother ‘Mommy, I’m not afraid. Don’t worry’. She died on November 25, 1978 at the age of 43. RIP !
Edwarda O’ Bara and family photos
Kaye O’ Bara looking hopefully at her child. She was 77 at that time (2005) and Edwarda was 52
File picture of Edwarda, then just 14
Colleen O’ Bara takes care of her sister. This is a picture captured in April 2012 during her birthday
Colleen O’ Bara celebrates birthday of her sister with family and friends
File photo of Edwarda O’ Bara and her family