9 Heartwarming Stories of Nurses Who Went Above and Beyond Their Call of Duty

These (and all) nurses deserve a major thank-you.

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Motherly love

As a nurse at MetroWest Cancer Center in Framingham, Massachusetts, Karen Mott tried hard to get one patient to open up. But Patrician McNulty usually tried to avoid conversation—unless it was about her nine-year-old son, Stephen. After McNulty went to hospice when her cancer took a bad turn, Mott wondered what would happen to Stephen. He couldn’t live with his father, who had permanent brain damage from a car accident, or any of his mother’s five siblings. McNulty didn’t want him in foster care. So after Stephen’s mother passed away, Mott and her husband, who have three other older children, brought him into their own family and adopted him.

Do you live in a place where people are always going above their call of duty? Help us in our search for Nicest Place in America by nominating it today! If chosen, it will appear on an upcoming cover of Reader's Digest!

Night of their lives

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Sixteen-year-old Madison Hurd had spent the year prepping for prom. She took a part-time job to afford her dress, and helped the student council plan and decorate the big night. But the week of the dance, she ended up in the hospital. Complications to an infection revealed she was having heart problems, and she knew there was no way she’d make it to prom—so nurses brought prom to her. They spent their day off doing Madison’s hair, makeup, and nails, and decorating the room to match the Great Gatsby theme she’d planned for the dance she was missing. They draped her dress over her hospital gown, and her boyfriend flew in from Alabama to Omaha, Nebraska, wearing a tux when he arrived, according to Live Well Nebraska.

Two new beginnings

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Julie Stroyne Nixon and her new husband, Andrew Nixon, were glowing after their wedding. The two were heading to their hotel from the reception when they heard yelling. People were calling for a doctor, so Julie rushed over. A woman on the bench was barely breathing and didn’t have a pulse. Luckily, Julie was a nurse at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. She performed CPR—still in her wedding gown—until the woman came to, according to CBS Pittsburgh.

Bringing back romance

Visiting a patient at Stony Brook University Hospital, oncology nurse Maggie Knight noticed the man seemed down. She figured a date night would make him feel more at home, and from there an idea was born. She and other nurses and staff surprise cancer patients with romantic dinners with their significant others. They set up music, decorations, and order food from the couple's favorite restaurant. A "do not disturb" sign on the door ensures they get some privacy for an hour or two while they enjoy the alone time, according to ABC 7.

Weathering the storm

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A major blizzard in January 2016 kept most New Yorkers safely in their homes, but one woman braved the elements. Knowing her Hebrew Home patients might need her, nurse Chantelle Diabate walked about two miles in the snow to get to the Bronx nursing home. She was the only nurse to report there that day, so she and other staff members worked double shifts to cover. “My job is really humbling because you realize you could be a patient…at some point you’re going to have to depend on somebody,” she told ABC News. “We all need each other. I treat my patients well because I treat them like family.”

Doubly happy day

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A Fort Worth couple rushed to North Hills Hospital when the soon-to-be mother started having contractions. While his girlfriend, Brandi, was waiting for an epidural, James Anderson vaguely told her he needed to go to the store. Little did she know he was asking the nurses to help him spontaneously marry Brandi before the baby was born. One nurse called her dad, who was a preacher, while the dad-to-be ran out to buy a ring. (Learn the not-so-romantic history of engagement rings.) At the surprise wedding ceremony, with their six-year-old son as a ring bearer. About half an hour after tying the knot, baby Janelle was born, according to CBS DFW.

Making memories

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Spending months waiting for a heart transplant in a Rochester, New York, hospital, Rich Danieu wasn’t able to make the father-daughter dance at his five-year-old, Mara’s, school, according to KOMO News. Mara’s grandpa took her to the dance, but she got upset when she started missing her dad. Danieu was sad he couldn't be there either. When nurses at Strong Hospital heard what happened, they planned a daddy-daughter dance just for him. Without letting Danieu in on the secret, they set up a dance, complete with music, balloons, and his two giggling daughters dressed to the nines.

In sickness and health

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A bad fall that broke several bones left Betty Hughes, who had Alzheimer’s, in Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, barely hanging on. Later that month, her husband of 68 years, Arthur, had a heart attack. The couple was originally in different units in the hospital, but nurses found a hospice room where they could both stay, according to WSBTV. Betty passed away just one day before Arthur, but the couple stayed side-by-side in their final days, thanks to the hospital staff.

Feeling the love

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Four-year-old Abby was in the hospital with Pre-B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, but all she couldn't stop talking about wanting to marry her favorite nurse, Matt Hickling. When Abby's mom told the nurse, he planned a special ceremony. With Abby, wearing a white dress and veil, walked over roe petals to Hickling, who was wearing a tuxedo T-shirt. The two sealed the deal with a big hug and Ring Pops, according to CBS News.

Spinning a yarn

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As a former oncology nurse, Holly Christensen knew that the scalps of children who lost their hair after chemotherapy were usually too sensitive for traditional wigs. So when her friend’s three-year-old daughter got a cancer diagnosis, Christensen made her feel like a princess. The former nurse made her a Rapunzel-like wig from soft yarn, decked out with faux flowers. Seeing the girl’s glee inspired Christensen to make more, according to ABC News. Launching The Magic Yarn Project, she and other volunteers create princess wigs from The Little Mermaid, Frozen, and more, plus ones based on Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. The organization has sent more than 1,900 wigs to kids, at no cost to the parents.


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