From One Hospital to Another, Brother and Sister Bond

Amanda (right) used a unique way to communicate with her family at BWH.

In life’s most trying moments, small gestures and coincidences can bring tremendous hope.

That was the case last month, when a family found itself with one daughter at Children’s Hospital Boston with a lung infection at the same time that their newborn son entered the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) next door. By sheer coincidence, the brother and sister found themselves in rooms across the street from one another – with views into each other’s windows. Nurses and staff at both hospitals rallied around the family, making and posting signs in the windows to help big sister Amanda meet and bond with her new brother Zachary.

It all started in March when Lucinda and Sean Murphy brought their 8-year-old daughter Amanda to Children’s Hospital with a lung infection related to cystic fibrosis. Not long after Amanda was admitted to Children’s, Lucinda – pregnant with a baby boy – felt her water break and headed straight to BWH for an emergency delivery. At just 4.5 pounds, baby Zachary soon was moved to the NICU.

The first hours of this double emergency were an emotional whirlwind. But soon after Zachary was settled into the NICU, Lucinda saw a sign outside his window that reassured her – a poster that hung in her daughter’s room across the street. Yes – sitting at her new son’s BWH NICU window, Lucinda had a clear view of her daughter Amanda’s Children’s Hospital room window.

“No one really planned it. It was sheer coincidence, or just someone looking down on us,” says Lucinda. The twist of fate spurred a series of creative communications between the NICU nurses and Amanda. First, Amanda posted “Hi Zachary.” The NICU nurses responded with “Hi Amanda,” followed by a colorful display of letters that read “My Big Sister Rocks!”

“Amanda was really excited to see the signs,” recalls Lucinda. “It’s been tough on her not being able to meet her baby brother, but knowing he is just across the street has been very comforting for our family.”

Signs in the window were just the first phase. Next, social workers and members of the BWH AudioVisual team stepped in to help introduce Amanda to Zachary via Skype. “It was heart-warming to hear Amanda say to her brother, ‘I’m your big sister…open your eyes,” says Susan Berliner, a NICU social worker.

“Everyone has gone above and beyond to make our stay better,” notes Lucinda. “It has made an ordinary hospital stay and a really difficult situation into something that we’ll remember, and we couldn’t be more thankful.”

– Linda W, Julio C

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