After 6 years in coma, Middletown woman, 25, dies from TBI complications

MIDDLETOWN – Nneoma Obi was less than a month away from celebrating her 19th birthday when she fell into a coma in October 2015.

Obi, who was in her second year at the University of Connecticut in October 2015 when she returned home to Middletown to attend a worship vigil for her late uncle in Nigeria, where her parents are from.

Shortly after returning home, Obi choked on a piece of meat that could not be immediately dislodged. She was rushed to Hartford Hospital, where medical staff placed her on life support.

For her family, removing Obi from life support was not an option, her mother said in 2015. She was eventually transferred to Water’s Edge Center for Health & Rehabilitation in Middletown for continued care while the family home was being renovated to meet its needs.

“Her brain was deprived of oxygen for an unknown amount of time,” her mother Nonye Obi told The Press at the time, explaining that her daughter needed round-the-clock care and numerous therapies.

Donna Gecewicz, a former massage therapist who at the time owned Body Harmony Therapeutic Massage on Newfield Street, was a family friend of the Obis and offered to provide free massage therapy to help the recovery process.

“We were family,” Gecewicz said Friday.

On the eve of Thanksgiving 2017, more than two years after the initial incident, Obi returned home, where her care continued in more familiar surroundings.

Last fall, Obi was admitted to the intensive care unit at Middletown Hospital where she “fought like a lioness” for two months and 22 days, according to her obituary.

“Nneoma fought like a tigress for her life. Her strength amazed everyone, even the doctors. She lived far beyond their predictions. She was the epitome of God’s crafty creation. She endured all the pains, setbacks, agonies, moans because she wanted to live, but they wouldn’t let her. A young girl’s life was snatched like this,” her obituary said.

Gecewicz admitted that no one had given up hope. “No one ever thought she would die,” she said. “We always hoped for a miracle.”

Friends and family remember Obi as an energetic student who was always eager to participate in extracurricular activities, her obituary stated.

From a young age at St. Stephens School in Hamden, then Sacred Heart Academy and finally UConn, she was into everything including acting, basketball and athletics. She was student council president, loved cheerleaders, and was a member of the African American Student Association.

Obi was also a talented poet and had even published two of her poems, according to her obituary.

She was heavily involved in her church where she was chosen to join the lesson readers at age 7, and was very active in the children’s church group.

Memories of Obi’s readings crossed his mind as friends and classmates performed readings at the funeral service, Gecewicz said. “I imagined him doing it.”

The funeral was held Friday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in New Haven. She was buried in Miner Cemetery in Middletown.

“Always be nice, because you just don’t know what each day is going to bring, and Nneoma has always been the nicest person,” Gecewicz said.

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