World

Nurse finds out coworker was once her patient 28 years ago

She took care of him 28 years ago when he was born

PALO ALTO He was a premature 29-week-old baby who weighed 1kg.

Nurse Vilma Wong, who was caring for little Brandon Seminatore at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford neonatal intensive care unit in Palo Alto, California, was struck by his dark eyes and alert expression. She took care of him for 40 days and he left the hospital a healthy 2.5kg.

That was 28 years and thousands of babies ago.

Then last month, Ms Wong, 54, spoke to a second-year paediatric resident in blue scrubs near one of the incubators.

When the doctor told her his name, it "sounded familiar," she told The Mercury News.

"I kept asking where he was from and he told me he was from San Jose, California, and that, as a matter of fact, he was a premature baby born at our hospital.

"I then got suspicious because I remember being the primary nurse to a baby with the same last name."

Then she asked him if his dad was a police officer.

"There was a big silence," she said. "And then he asked if I was Vilma."

The dark eyes and alert expression are still there, she said.

Dr Seminatore, who is specialising in child neurology, found Ms Wong inspiring as "meeting Vilma showed me the dedication and love she has for her career".

The 28-year-old added: "She cares deeply for her patients, to the point that she is able to remember a patient's name almost three decades later.

"Not all of us will get the chance to see our patients grow up, and I was so happy to be able to share that moment with her.

"This story is for families with children who have had a rough start in life. I want to give them hope."

Dr Seminatore told The Mercury News that after he reunited with Ms Wong, he texted his parents. His dad, retired San Jose police officer David Seminatore, then dug up the photo of Ms Wong holding his baby boy - who had just had his breathing tube removed .

Ms Wong and fellow nurse Kas Pilon are legendary in his family for their kindness and tender care, newspaper reported.

"They were the most wonderful nurses,'' said Mrs Laura Seminatore, who was a kindergarten teacher in 1990 when her only son was born. She is now the principal at St John Vianney Catholic school in San Jose.

"They helped calm a lot of our fears.''

For Ms Wong, the meeting was also an affirmation of her calling.

"As a nurse," she told the newspaper, "it is kind of like your reward.".

WORLD