"Growing up as a child, disfigured by the burns, I was bullied and picked on, tormented," Scarpinati told The Associated Press. "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."
Scarpinati, determined to find the woman, recently turned to social media for help.
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"These are pictures of me as a baby while I was being treated at Albany Medical Center for 3rd degree burns in Albany, NY," Scarpinati wrote in a Sept. 16 Facebook post. "I tried almost 20 years ago to find out who the nurse is holding me but had no luck. Maybe now with the powers of social media someone will recognize her. This was from 1977. I would love to know her name and possibly get a chance to talk to her and meet her. Please share as you never know who it could reach."
>> Click here to see her post
Soon after Scarpinati's search went viral, she had a lead: A former colleague at the hospital identified the nurse in the photos as Susan Berger. Berger now oversees the Cazenovia College health center in New York, the AP reports.
>> Read the post here
Now, decades later, the two women have reunited, tearfully embracing each other at a Tuesday news conference at Albany Medical Center.
>> Click here to watch the heartwarming video
“It’s such a great reminder at the end of my career to think back on all the interactions that I’ve had with patients. All of the things that I’ve done made me put aside the hard work and the times it was stressful and think about this. This is the best part,” Berger said.
Both women say this is the start of a new friendship that began years ago.
– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk and The Associated Press contributed to this report.