Amanda Scarpinati was just a little baby in 1977 when she rolled off a couch and fell onto a hot-steam humidifier. At just three months old, she suffered severe burns and was hospitalized after receiving multiple skin grafting surgeries.
Here is baby Amanda cradled by a kind nurse. Even though she was covered in burns and bandages, she seemed happy and safe in the nurse’s arms.
Her burns healed, but Amanda experienced a different hurt through years of bullying.
“Growing up as a child, disfigured by the burns, I was bullied and picked on, tormented,” she said.
“I’d look at those pictures and talk to her, even though I didn’t know who she was. I took comfort looking at this woman who seemed so sincere, caring for me.”
“You can feel the compassion and love she had for me,” she said.
She wanted to thank the nurse who lovingly cared for her and was a symbol of hope, but she didn’t even know her name. Amanda tried to track down the nurse 20 years ago, but with no luck. Just recently she decided to try again with the help of social media.
She posted the photos on Facebook and asked for help.
“Within 12 hours, it had gone viral with 5,000 shares across the country,” said Amanda.
Angela Leary, a fellow nurse who had worked with Amanda’s nurse at Albany Medical, recognized the pictures and contacted Amanda with the woman’s name: Susan Berger.
Nurse Susan remembered baby Amanda and the day the photo was taken. Susan was 21 years old, a recent graduate, and Amanda was one of her first patients.
“I remember her,” Susan said. “She was very peaceful. Usually when babies come out of surgery, they’re sleeping or crying. She was just so calm and trusting. It was amazing.”
Just last year, they met for the first time since 1977.
They cried and embraced.
“You’re real! Thank you!” exclaimed Amanda through tears.
“Thank YOU!” Susan responded.
“I’m over the moon to meet Sue…I never thought this day would come,” said Amanda.
Photo: Amanda Scarpinati
Both were blessed by the encounter.
“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,” said Susan. “I feel privileged to be the one to represent all the nurses who cared for her over the years.”
“[It’s] a great reminder at the end of my career to think back on all of the interactions I’ve had with patients, all the things that I’ve done,” she continued.
“Maybe put aside the hard work and the times it was so stressful and think about this. This is the best part,” she said.
At the emotional reunion, somebody questioned if this could be the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
“It already has been a lifelong friendship,” Amanda responded. “She just didn’t know.”