She was Caring for a Burned Baby in 1977. She Wasn’t Expecting this 38 Years Later

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She was caring for a burned baby in 1977. She wasn’t expecting this 38 years later. This is the story of a nurse that cared for a burn baby in 1977; then, 38 years later, something unexpected happened. This story makes me cry every time I hear it. Let me tell you how it went.

Amanda Scarpinati, in 1977, was just three months old. She suffered a terrible accident as a little baby; she rolled off the couch and into a boiling hot steam vaporizer. The incident was devastating and severely burned her little body.

Melted mentholated ointment scalded her skin and damaged her tissues. It was a disaster, and an ambulance was called immediately to take her to the hospital. Everyone feared for her life. The nearest facility was the Albany Medical Center, where she would meet the woman that would be in her dreams for the rest of her life. But she didn’t know that yet. She didn’t know anything yet as a three-month-old baby, only that her body hurt intensely, and something had gone terribly wrong.

Amanda had to be treated for third-degree burns all over her little body, the worst damage on her arms and head. The medical staff in the hospital did everything in their power to make the little infant comfortable, and Amanda had to stay interned a couple of weeks to be monitored and have her balance carefully renewed every few days.

The biggest risk was infection, but luckily she pulled through and was able to be released eventually. But this was only the beginning of a painful journey for little Amanda. The burns caused permanent damage and severe scarring on her little body, and she would have to learn to live with this. Now, her parents, in the meantime, received a message from the hospital.

During Amanda’s treatments, photos had been taken of her and a nurse together, and these photos were now selected to adorn the cover and inlays of the Albany Medical Center’s annual report. They were sent copies of the report, and when Amanda was old enough, they showed her the images and told her the story of how her body had become so damaged.

Amanda was fascinated by the photos and looked at them often. She saw herself as a tiny baby wrapped in bandages in the arms of a nurse that lovingly held her. In none of the pictures was she crying, although she must have been in severe pain, and it seemed that she was very comfortable in the arms of this unidentified woman. Who was she, Amanda often wondered, but her parents had no idea and couldn’t tell her. She would dream of meeting this lady one day, though.

It was one of the few comforts she had in her difficult childhood. Due to the burns, she had to undergo several surgeries and treatments, and because the scars on her body made her look different, she was also often bullied at school. They would call her names and take her things, and Amanda would spend a lot of time by herself.

Over and over, she would look at the comforting photos in beautiful black and white. She is looking peaceful in the arms of the nurse who is smiling down on her. She would hold onto the pictures dearly and dream of that woman that seemed to be caring for her so sincerely and be so kind to her. She would even talk to the woman, tell her her troubles and worries, explain her sadness about the bullying without any idea what was even her name.

Growing up into a beautiful young lady, Amanda was resolved to find this nurse one day. She tried several times to find out more information, but the annual report had not mentioned the name of the nurse, and several inquiries with the medical center also did not give her any useful details.

She was only able to find out that the pictures were taken by a photographer called Carl Howard, but his subjects weren’t identified at the time. It seemed like no one knew who this amazing nurse was that had been working the floors of the recovery room in that hospital in 1977. Amanda would have given anything to meet her, though, and thank her for showing her such loving care and tenderness when she needed it the most. Something inner made her want to meet this person so badly.

With the passing years, the knowledge of the nurse’s identity may have gotten buried further and further. The technologies in the world, of course, did not stand still. Around 2015, a friend who knew about Amanda’s wish to meet her mystery nurse urged her to try again and to use social media this time. Amanda realized that Facebook might indeed be just the tool for her to complete her mission. By now, she was 38 years old and living in Athens, 25 miles south of Albany, where she worked as a human resources manager. Amanda carefully took out the photos that were so dear to her, scanned them, and uploaded them to Facebook. She created a post and asked people to share it far and wide.

Amanda hoped that online the post would reach the right person, someone that had any information on her or was perhaps even able to identify the woman in the pictures. Maybe now, with the power of social media, someone will recognize her. “I would love to know her name and possibly get a chance to talk to her and meet her. Please share, as you never know who it could reach,” she wrote next to it.

“You never know,” indeed. The post went completely viral and received many shares and likes. People loved the story and sincerely hoped that Amanda would find her nurse. But it also hit home.

Only one day after she had posted it, Amanda got the lead she had been looking for. A woman named Angela Leary, who had been a fellow nurse at the medical center back then, recognized the woman in the pictures. She sent Amanda a message and told her the name of the nurse was Susan Berger, and that yes, she was as sweet and as caring as she looks in this picture. She knew Sue had moved away but was not sure where she was living now.

But the name was all that Amanda needed to find her mystery nurse. Now she had been identified; she was thrilled. After a search of more than 20 years and 38 years after it had all happened, it had now taken only 24 measly hours to find out who the woman was. If only she had thought of this sooner, but Amanda could not have been happier. She had a name and a connection, and soon enough, she was able to get her hands on Sue Berger’s phone number.

Sue had been 21 years old when the photos were taken and had just come out of college. Amanda happened to have been one of her very first patients and definitely touched Sue’s heart. Sue remembered the little burnt baby as very peaceful. She said, “Usually when babies come out of surgery, they’re sleeping or crying. She was just so calm and trusting; it was amazing.

Amazing indeed. It turned out that for Sue, the encounter in that recovery room in 1977 had also had a lasting impact. She even had her own copies of the pictures that Amanda had kept all those years and still treasured them. Sue had always wondered what had happened to little Amanda and if she was okay. But to suddenly hear from her 38 years later, after she had held her in her arms, she had not expected at all. “I was just speechless,” she said, “and to think that someone would have thought about it all those years and just saved the photo as I did myself.

Sue was still working as a medical professional, now as the executive vice president of the health center at Casanova College in New York when she received word from Amanda. The first phone call between the two was incredibly emotional, and Sue mentioned that it was so good to hear her voice and have her explain emotionally where she was coming from. Of course, they had to meet in person as well. This encounter that was almost 40 years in the making had to happen, and it was arranged and would take place at the Albany Medical Center where they had spent those special moments together all those years ago.

Amanda was nervous leading up to the event, and when she finally saw Sue, she could not contain her tears. The emotion I felt, I wasn’t prepared for when I saw her, she stated. And after a long and heartfelt embrace between the two, Amanda said, “It felt like hugging a mom to her.” “Oh my god, you’re real!” she exclaimed. And she felt so incredibly happy that she was able to thank Sue in person for the care and love she had shown her as a little baby. She had been waiting for this moment for so long and along the way had almost given up hope it would actually happen one day. But here it was, her deepest wish had come true, and she was able to look at that amazingly loving nurse in the eyes now and express her gratitude.

Sue was also immensely touched and so pleased to see that Amanda had grown up into a beautiful young woman and that she was okay. Sue said that she is perhaps even happier about the reunion than Amanda. “I don’t know how many nurses would be lucky enough to have something like this happen, to have someone remember you all that time,” she stated. “I feel privileged to be the one to represent all the nurses who cared for her over the years.”

If any scarring still remains on Amanda’s body, it really is hardly visible at first glance, and she looks stunning. If you look close enough, you can see the resemblance between that tiny baby wrapped in white bandages and the beautiful woman standing on stage next to her hero nurse.

When asked if this meeting is perhaps the beginning of a long friendship between the two, Amanda said it already has been a lifelong friendship; she just didn’t know. Give this video a thumbs up if you are also happy Amanda was able to make her wish come true and tell us the story of when you have ever used social media to trace down a person you once knew.

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