Ask any nurse, and they’ll tell you their profession is a mixed bag of emotion. Their work often goes unnoticed and unappreciated — but for one nurse in Tennessee, a whole team of people came together from across the globe to make sure she was given a hefty dose of thanks.
The world first met nurse Olivia Neufelder in 2017. She works in a transplant unit at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Neufelder caught the public’s eye after a video of her singing to a dying patient went viral. Margaret Smith, 63, was facing the end of her life, and her fears were eased by the sound of Neufelder’s calming singing voice.
Smith’s favorite song was “Dancing in the Sky” by twin sisters Dani and Lizzy Nelson. Neufelder learned the lyrics, and sweetly sang them to Smith just days before she passed away in Oct. 2017.
The video of Neufelder singing to Smith eventually reached the eyes and ears of songstresses Dani and Lizzy, who live in Vancouver. The sisters were so touched by the nurse’s love and compassion, they desperately wanted to thank her in a big way.
Just in time for National Nurses Week, which happens every year from May 6 – May 12, the twin sisters teamed up with television’s TODAY to give Neufelder an unforgettable surprise.
First, an unsuspecting Neufelder was greeted by TODAY’s Sheinelle Jones. Jones thanked Neufelder for being such an inspiring nurse, and introduced her to two women who had been very close to Neufelder’s late patient, Smith.
The women were led down a hall and into a room where sisters Dani and Lizzy Nelson were waiting. The artists, who flew to Nashville all the way from Vancouver, performed a live rendition of “Dancing in the Sky,” as a way to say thank you to Neufelder, in the presence of Smith’s loved ones.
“We wanted to come thank you — and to just say how touched we were for how far you went above and beyond,” Dani Nelson told Neufelder. “We hope that we would all be in that kind of care.”
Tears streamed down everyone’s faces during the heartwarming song that explores the themes of death and heaven. The Nelson sisters felt deeply appreciative to have played a part in honoring Neufelder, and thankful their song resonated with Smith and her loved ones.
“We could only imagine that we’d be in such good hands,” Dani Nelson said of Neufelder’s nursing talent. “She’s such a good nurse. She’s very dedicated to her work.”
Of course, Neufelder isn’t in the nursing field for the recognition, but it’s nice to feel appreciated from time to time.
Most encouraging, perhaps, is knowing there are many Neufelder nurses out there — who show the same love and compassion to their patients each day.
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