Former Norton Children’s Hospital NICU nurse and patient’s family share 30-year friendship

Their deep connection began following the death of a child

I’ve been proud to call Norton Healthcare my employer for 36 years. While I work in human resources now, I got my start as a staff nurse at Norton Children’s Hospital. I met so many special kids and families as a nurse. There are too many to count, but there is one I still think of daily.

A newborn named Carly came to Norton Children’s Hospital from South Carolina for a heart transplant in 1988. I was working in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) when Carly was admitted.

Carly’s condition became grave and it became apparent that she was not going to survive. I was able to be with her and her family when she passed away. This sweet little infant never even reached 1 month old.

Lisa and Jimmy Hunter with baby Carly

After Carly’s death, I stayed in contact with Carly’s mom, Lisa, and dad, Jimmy, a sweet couple who really loved Carly. Since Carly was so far away from the rest of her family after her birth, I knew that my knowing her was a source of comfort for the parents. I knew what she had gone through and, after Carly’s death, felt I could help them by staying in touch and talking about Carly to keep her memory alive.

I visited the family in South Carolina and met so many people who loved her. They received me with open arms and we had a wonderful visit.

Lisa and I kept in touch through the years. We visited each other a time or two, and she and her husband came to my wedding with their new 1-month-old daughter in tow. When Lisa told me she was having a baby girl, she asked if she could name her Jacinta, after me! I was so honored and hoped I could live up to being her Aunt Cinta.

Bravery in every child

At Norton Children’s Heart Center, we are inspired by the stories of our patients. Each patient’s story has its own unique challenges that had to be overcome – with courage, hope and teamwork.

The years went by and we continued to stay in touch. Jacinta would send me pictures she made for me, and Lisa would send photos. Jacinta grew into a wonderful young woman and got married in 2012. My son and I went to South Carolina to share in the celebration.

All these years later, Jacinta still treats me like a family member. And now I am a great aunt. Jacinta had a son, Hunter, in 2016, whom my daughter and I visited during a spring break trip.

Ours has not been the typical patient/caregiver relationship, but it certainly has been a wonderful friendship that grew from a very sad life event. I am honored to know them and have a deep connection and love for this special family.