Woman reunites with nurse who cared for her as an infant

Amanda Scarpinati is a beautiful woman from New York who loves life and has many good friends. Yet hardly anyone knows what happened to her nearly 40 years ago when she was still a baby — thanks to plastic surgery there are no traces left. But before that, Amanda's childhood was extremely difficult and she only had a few precious photos that helped her get through it.

In 1977, at the age of just three months, Amanda suffered terrible burns to her head and hands. She was ill and her parents had placed her on the sofa next to a humidifier full of boiling water. Amanda's parents left the room for only a few seconds, but in that time tragedy struck — she rolled off the sofa and landed in the scalding hot water. Her parents quickly rushed her to Albany Medical Center.

At the hospital Amanda was treated for severe burns. She was out of danger but in extreme pain. Fortunately for Amanda there was a young nurse at the hospital who took a special interest in her and was willing to go the extra mile to comfort her during the difficult recovery. Susan Berger spent hours cradling the infant in her arms and did everything she could to help distract her from the pain.

Susan and Amanda developed a special bond during that trying ordeal and the beauty of their special relationship did not go unnoticed. Carl Howard was so moved when he saw the two together that he took a series of photos. These pictures became invaluable to Amanda as she was growing up.

The pain of the burns eventually faded, but as Amanda got older she started to suffer from a new kind of pain. The burns had left her with terrible scars and the kids at school teased her mercilessly about her appearance. Many days she came home with tears in eyes, and when it all seemed too much to bear, Amanda would pull out those photos of Susan holding her and stare at them for hours. "I looked at the pictures and talked to her, even though I had no idea who she was. It comforted me to look at this woman who had cared for me so much," Amanda remembered.

By age 18, Amanda had undergone several surgeries to hide the scarring. The plastic surgery was so successful that no one could have guessed what she had been through. But Amanda still felt the need to find the nurse who had held her as an infant and helped her through such a terrible time. She even began searching for her on social media. Amanda wrote a touching post on Facebook and within 12 hours over 5,000 people had seen it.

And then, finally, it happened: a former colleague recognized Susan and was able to tell Amanda how she could contact her! The two women arranged to meet 38 years after developing their special bond. When Susan entered the room, Amanda instantly broke down in tears and gave her a big hug, repeating over and over: "You're real!" Until that moment, Susan had only been a face in a picture. Susan also remembered her little patient. "She was so brave. I remember holding her for a long time," she recalled. "I remember how calm and trusting she was. And that was so special for such a small baby after an operation."

Susan was moved by Amanda's gratitude. "I am so touched!," she said with tears in her eyes. She had also kept the photos the entire time "as a reminder that you can make a difference. You have to remember that every day so that you give it your all."

When reporters asked Amanda whether the meeting was the beginning of a lifelong friendship, she answered, "It was already a lifelong friendship. She just didn't know!" What a touching story about the lasting legacy of a caring nurse.

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