In a heartwarming tale, a woman who suffered severe burns as baby has found the nurse who cared for her. Thanks to a social media posting, Amanda Scarpinati was able to identify the woman, Susan Berger, in a 38-year-old photo Amanda had always treasured.
Amanda was injured when she was just three months old. As a baby, she was lying on a couch. A steam vaporizer was on the floor below. Amanda rolled off the couch and into the boiling machine. The burns resulting from the steam and melted mentholated ointment led to years of reconstructive surgeries.
“Growing up as a child, disfigured by the burns, I was bullied and picked on, tormented,” said Scarpinati, 38. “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 black-and-white photo shows a young nurse soothing a baby that is wrapped up tight. The photo by photographer Carl Howard was published in Albany Medical Center’s 1977 annual report. However, no names were listed under the photo.
For 20 years, Amanda has tried to find out who the caring nurse was. Finally, a friend urged her to post the image on Facebook.
“Within 12 hours, it had gone viral with 5,000 shares across the country,” said Scarpinati. “It was on the local TV news the next morning. I was blown away.”
At last, Amanda learned that the woman in the photo was named Susan Berger who currently works at the health center at Cazenovia College in New York’s Finger Lakes region.
Before going upstate to visit Susan, Amanda spoke with her on the phone.
“It was amazing,” said Scarpinati. “She just has such a gentle, caring voice, just like I imagined she’d have.”
Although Susan was only 21 at the time, she still remembers the poor burned baby.
“I remember her,” said Berger. “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.”
“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 Berger said. “I feel privileged to be the one to represent all the nurses who cared for her over the years.”