Nightly News   |  April 07, 2013

Nurse refuses to slow down anytime soon

At 79, nurse Sylvia Bernassoli is continuing to donate her time – and her money – to the cause of her life, in-vitro fertilization. NBC’s Michelle Franzen reports.

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>>> let's face it, by the age of 79 most people are trying to stay out of the hospital. but for one dedicated nurse, there are no plans to leave the hospital any time soon. working and helping women have children are a labor of love. nbc's michelle franzen and how she is making a difference.

>> reporter: it's an early morning at mcgee women's hospital in pittsburgh. nurse sylvia presence her patient for surgery.

>> your hair is gorgeous. who does this?

>> reporter: with a nurturing touch, sylvia sedates patients beginning in-vitro fertilization, a procedure that for imwomen is their last hope of having a child. they send you flowers afterwards.

>> yes, they do. i get a lot of flowers and candy.

>> reporter: sylvia 's been working as a nurse for more than a half a century. but when in-vitro technology became a reality in the u.s. during the '80s, she found her calling.

>> i am 79. i don't want to be doing old ladies with their fractured hips and old men with all their cardiac conditions and so on. this is a fun, fun job.

>> reporter: more than a job. a passion that sylvia 's taking one step further. donating her life savings to the hospital's fertility center. in all, more than half a million dollars. money that will fund the hospital's labs where cutting-edge research is taking place to develop fertility treatments, some of which helps to protect cancer patients.

>> she treated me like a human.

>> reporter: melanie, a math tutor, is battling thyroid cancer and says sylvia was by her side last month when she chose to have her eggs frozen.

>> i want to be able to have the same things everybody else is able to have. part of life is being able to start a family.

>> reporter: according to the most recent data, doctors now perform 150,000 in-vitro procedures a year nationwide. around 40% result in birth. odds sylvia hopes will grow. a gift that will keep on giving.

>> this is my love. this is my love.

>> reporter: michelle franzen , nbc news, pittsburgh.