“If she’s going to live such a short life it would be good if she had a mom” reasoned Núria Pérez, the nurse who didn’t hesitate to adopt Zoe when she met her.
Núria Pérez is an Argentinian nurse who, thanks to her very generous heart, did something that few people would do. By sheer chance she met a baby in the neonatal unit where she used to work who would change her life forever.
On a day that began just like any other, Núria met Zoe, a newborn baby who had been abandoned. The baby was sleeping in a cot, just like all of the others in the unit, the only difference being that nobody was coming to take her home.
However, there was another page to Zoe’s story. She was suffering from hydranencephaly, a rare disease that causes the brain’s cerebral hemispheres to be largely absent and the cavities that remain to fill with fluid. Therefore the little girl was only expected to live for about a year.
“As her cerebral hemispheres weren’t developed, she couldn’t see or hear and obviously she wasn’t going to be able to walk. But her brainstem was developed, which meant that her lungs were working and her heart was beating” said Núria in a conversation with Infobae.
They spent weeks in the Eva Perón hospital in Santa Lucía in Northern Argentina and the baby’s condition remained the same: she had no family and her days we practically numbered. Núria knew she had to do something to help her.
Núria was already a mother to a 9 year old and it broke her heart to see the baby alone. “Babies like Zoe are always very special for us. We have a lot more contact with them than we do with babies whose parents are present. Zoe wasn’t my patient and I only looked after her a few times but nevertheless I always stopped by to see her and keep her company for a while” she said.
A month after meeting her, maybe a month and a half, I told my colleagues that I was going to be her mother” she added.
“I thought: ‘if she’s going to live such a short life it would be good if she had a mom, a brother, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, a house, a bed, clothes and toys.’ I think that there are many ways of being a mother and adoption was different to the motherhood I’d experienced”.
When she investigated the little girl’s story a bit further, Núria found out that Zoe’s biological mother was a young girl who didn’t have the economic resources necessary to take care of her. When she talked the matter over with her family, she got a positive reaction. and that’s how she became Zoe’s new mom.
“I always treated her just like any other child. It never crossed my mind that I should treat her with pity. I took her to the park, I lifted her up to play on the toys, we took her out to eat with the family: normal things that perhaps some parents of a disabled child wouldn’t consider doing.
Obviously we’ve felt scared and insecure at times, especially when Zoe was getting closer to the end of her supposed life expectancy. Even though we always knew that one day it was going to happen, it’s impossible to be prepared for death, especially the death of a child.” she added.
However, the years went by and the little one stayed with the family until her fifth birthday. In August 2019 Zoe passed away, after having exceeded her life expectancy by four years. The little girl presented symptoms of a respiratory complication and Núria took her to the emergency room, something that she’ll never forget.
“The doctor ordered me to leave and I refused, telling him that I wasn’t going to leave her alone. He treated me badly, he grabbed my arm and pushed me against a table. That situation was terrible for me, I’d promised Zoe I’d never leave her alone, not even in her worst moment” she said.
That was when she had to make “the most difficult decision of my life” not to resuscitate Zoe or put her on life support. “It’s possible that they might have resuscitated her and she could have got up and come home but perhaps she would have had to stay permanently in hospital on life support, prolonging her pain, which was the one thing that none of us wanted for her” she explained.