MAYWOOD, Ill. — At Westlake Hospital, a nurse and a grateful mother came together Monday for a reunion years in the making.
Vicelis Negron gave birth to her son Jacob at the hospital in February of 2015, and at first he seemed like a normal, healthy baby. But a couple hours later, labor and delivery nurse Claudia Lopez started her shift - and immediately noticed something was wrong.
"Something about the baby I just wasn’t easy with," Claudia said.
Claudia heard slight wheezing, a tiny sound none of the other doctors or nurses noticed, as well as a slight blue hue to the baby's lips. She rushed Jacob to the NICU for tests, and soon after his condition began to deteriorate.
"It was just going from bad to worse by the second," Claudia said.
By all accounts, had it not been for Claudia, Jacob would not be alive today. It turned out he suffered from a condition that keeps blood flow to the lungs from working the way it should.
As doctors and specialists began treating the tiny Jacob, Vicelis said she found herself without any family support at the hospital. She later described how the nurse went above and beyond on social media, writing:
Claudia didn't only save his life. She was my mom, my dad, my husband, my sibling, my angel, my nurse. It took 6 hours before I can get a hold of anyone in my family. This woman who had other patients besides me asked to be my nurse for the rest of her shift. For the rest of her shift she laid by my side hugging me and keeping me updated on Jacob since the minute he got transferred to Luries Children's Hospital.
While Vicelis said she thought of Claudia often over the years, she decided to try and find her two years ago. But due to privacy laws the hospital would not release her information.
Even as the family made return trips to the hospital as Jacob got his many checkups, she kept an eye out for the nurse she calls her "angel." Then she put a plea out on social media, hoping to find her in time for the Christmas holiday.
"For the past two years I’ve been looking for the nurse who saved my son’s life," Vicelis wrote in the post. "I want my son to know and see the person who saved him and who did everything in her power for him to get the help he needed."
Claudia says as a nurse she often wonders about how her young patients are doing, and she remembers Jacob and his mom clearly.
"It was very touching she went out of her way to look for me," she said.
Jacob has had two open heart surgeries, but is doing great.