Nurse reunites with baby held in viral photo

ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) – It all started with a photo posted to social media and a plea for help finding the woman in it.

A reunion in the making happened at Albany Medical Center on Tuesday. Amanda Scarpinati is the baby being held by nurse Sue Berger in the photo.

It was taken in 1977 at Albany Med. It was so long ago, that recovery room doesn’t exist anymore.

Scarpinati was just 3-months-old in the image. She was recovering from third degree burns after an accident. Multiple surgeries later, her scars faded but the memory of the nurse never did.

“You can just see that I just totally trusted her, and she soothed me at a time when I needed it,” she said.

Scarpinati said she would look at the picture every time she was bullied for her burns. The 37-year-old said the photo meant someone cared about her, and for years, she hoped to one day meet Berger.

She tried to find Berger 20 years ago but was unsuccessful.

“Just to see the love and the caring in these pictures just blows my mind,” she said. “That a complete stranger can just open themselves up and care for you, and I just want to be able to thank her for that.”

On Tuesday, nearly 40 years after it was taken, Berger and Scarpinati were reunited, and both could hardly believe it was really happening.

“I feel like it’s Christmas,” Scarpinati said in anticipation.

Berger gasped as she turned the corner to see Scarpinati’s face, and just like that day in 1977, Berger was once again holding her patient.

“Oh, my God, you’re real,” Scarpinati said once the two were reunited.

Berger also held on to the picture of she and Scarpinati as a baby.

“You know, I held her for the longest time,” Berger recalled. “‘Does she really have to be discharged and go back to her unit now? I’d like a few more minutes.’ She was just so good and so trusting and amazing for such a tiny baby.”

Scarpinati first shared the photo of the pair on Facebook last week and asked NEWS10 ABC to do the same.

Angela Leary, of Delmar, was also a nurse at Albany Med when the picture was taken. She recognized Berger and helped make the reunion happen.

Scarpinati was glad she had the opportunity to thank her friend and presented Berger with a gift.

Berger said she didn’t realize how much of an impact she had by just loving and holding a baby. She said the reunion made all the tough times in her nursing career worth it.

“I think it’s just that reminder that you can make a difference,” she said. “You just have to remember to have that compassion every day, and nursing is very difficult to always stay on. Teachers are the same way. It’s just difficult to always be on, and you never know what you say or what you do can do for others.”

“I’m just so excited I get to form this real friendship with her,” Scarpinati said.

Scarpinati and Berger said they planned to spend some time together Tuesday evening and plan to keep in touch.

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