Surgery is a frightening ordeal for anyone, especially a young child. There is the fear of the unknown and hospitals aren’t always the warmest places.
But UPMC Susquehanna Health in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is not just any hospital. One of the nurses there proved that when she made a family’s day by showing kindness and compassion to a scared little boy.
Five-year-old Slade Thompson has had two recent surgeries. Layla Thompson, Slade’s mom, told Liftable, a section of The Western Journal, that they’ve been to multiple doctors trying to figure out why Slade walked on his toes.
After many tests and being diagnosed as a severe toe walker, Slade went under the knife at the beginning of 2019 as doctors tried to resolve the condition, and for two months he had to be in a wheelchair.
“He’s been through a lot this last year,” Thompson told WNEP-TV.
“We had been in the children’s hospital,” she went on, “so we were kind of nervous just going to a hospital to have it done.”
The second surgery was a procedure that Thompson told Liftable would cauterize Slade’s “tonsils, adenoids and both sides of his nose.” When the surgery was through and Slade came out of his anesthesia, all he needed was a little love.
“Kids don’t typically come out of anesthesia very happy,” Slade’s nurse, Annie Hager, told WNEP-TV. The boy was crying and just wanted his mom.
But Thompson had to wait while the nurses checked Slade’s vitals. Since she wasn’t able to comfort her son, Hager stepped in and saved the day.
“When I told him mom couldn’t be there, he asked if I would snuggle him and I said, ‘sure will,'” Hager explained.
When Thompson and her fiancé arrived and saw Slade being so well-loved and cared for, they were both overcome with emotion.
The boy’s mom snapped a photo of the tender moment, originally just intending it for Slade’s scrapbook, but she posted the image online and it has since gone viral.
“As a nurse, providing care is one thing, but making sure our patients are calm and comfortable matters just as much,” UPMC wrote on Facebook.
“It’s nurses like Annie — who show true compassion — that keep our patients happy.”
“You want someone to treat your child the way you would treat them,” Thompson told WNEP-TV. She and Slade returned to UPMC with a gift and thank-you hug for the special nurse.
“This little guy touched my heart, and his mama’s beautiful kind words and actions have brought tears to my eyes twice now!” Hager shared on Instagram. “This right here is why I LOVE my job.”
Thompson also told Liftable she thinks that kids do better knowing about the procedures they will be undergoing, and she strongly encourages parents to explain everything to their kids beforehand using any of the multitude of resources available.
“The parents can be calmer, kids can be calmer, everything just runs smoothly,” she said.
“I would tell other parents to confide in other parents who have had similar situations but also remember one bad experience with one person doesn’t mean you will all have that,” she cautioned. “Every person and case is different.”
Thompson also mentioned that Hager had gone the extra mile on what was supposed to be her day off. She’d been called back in because they were running short — and that made all the difference for the little boy who now considers “Miss Annie” his best friend.
If only all nurses could be like Hager! She is a true example of kindness and compassion. Have you had a similar experience with the doctors and nurses in your local community?
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