The old photographs were taken way back 1977 at the Albany Medical Center in New York following the hot-steam humidifier incident that made Scarpinati suffer severe third-degree burn.
During Scarpinati’s youth, she would undergo several surgeries and be teased by her classmates. But being bullied made her even more attached to the black-and-white images of herself as an infant being comforted by her nurse.
“Growing up as a child, disfigured by the burns, I was bullied and picked on, tormented,” Scarpinati said on her interview with Associated Press. “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.”
The 38-year-old resources manager did not waste any time in search for the nurse, whose name wasn’t published on the pictures. For 20 years, she would find ways to look for her so she could extend her gratitude for all the care she gave her.
“Doctors are amazing. They do what they have to do, but after it’s said and done, they’re not there,” Scarpinati said.
“It’s the nurses who are there comforting you, and here I am, this tiny infant, she’s just staring at me and smiling and I was’t crying in any of those pictures, so that says a lot,” she revealed on one of her interviews.
And through the power of social media, Scarpinati posted the pictures on Facebook though she lacked confidence that her plea would help put a name to the nurse’s face.
“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,” the caption stated.
“It’s the nurses who are there comforting you..”
And in a matter of hours, the post had circulated online and Angela Leary, a former nurse at Albany Medical Center, provided an information to Scarpinati saying the nurse in the photo is Susan Berger, who had moved to the Syracuse area years ago.
It was affirmed that Berger was the young nurse during the time and just finished her college degree. To a surprise, the now Executive Vice President of New York’s Cazenovia College still has Scarpinati in her thoughts and even held on to the same photos. Berger is also believed to be vocal about her unforgettable experience with the little Scarpinati she once cared for.
“She was 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.”
And finally, the two had an exciting yet touching reunion after 38 years at the Albany Medical Center on Tuesday, where they last saw each other.
“I don’t know how many nurses would be lucky enough… to have someone remember you all that time.”
“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,” Berger said. “I feel privileged to be the one to represent all the nurses who cared for her over the years.”
Finally meeting her hero nurse, Scarpinati says God has finally answered prayers and given her a new mission in life.
“It’s to give inspiration, hope, appreciation to all those who touch people’s lives,” she wrote in a post on Facebook.
Witness their heartwarming moment below!