Amanda Scarpinati was just 3 months old when she rolled off a couch onto a boiling steam vaporizer.
The burns she suffered scalded her skin and required many reconstructive surgeries as she grew up.
But what she’s always held onto during those difficult times was the simple picture of an unnamed nurse holding her as she rested calmly in her arms, published in a 1977 annual report of the Albany Medical Center.
“Growing up as a child, disfigured by the burns, I was bullied and picked on, tormented," she said. "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."
After years of searching for the woman, Scarpinati finally took to Facebook earlier this month to ask for help in identifying who the woman holding her might be. The post went viral until the right person eventually saw it.
That person was Angela Leary, a school nurse in Delmar, New York, who instantly recognized Sue Berger, the nurse in the picture, from working with her nearly 40 years ago.
“I said oh my God, that’s Sue Berger,” said Leary. “Connecting the dots was easy and I was happy to do it.”
So the women were eventually reunited at the Albany Medical Center on Tuesday, where they last saw each other.
“I couldn't believe it, couldn't believe it,” said Scarpinati. “The emotion I felt I wasn't prepared for when I saw her. It was almost like hugging a mom.”
Some 38 years later, Sue Berger marveled at the impact she had on that baby.
“What a beautiful story, she said. “What a beautiful woman she is.”
Finally meeting, her hero nurse, Scarpinati says God has finally answered prayers and given her a new mission in life.
“Its to give inspiration, hope, appreciation to all those who touch people’s lives, she wrote in a post on Facebook. “Most of all, it’s for me to feel liberated, unchained, and no longer ashamed.”