Former NICU patient and nurse reunite after 21 years

Updated: Sep. 27, 2020 at 8:50 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After 21 years, a former patient at Chippenham Hospital’s NICU reunited with one of the nurses who helped save his life, and donated money to help other children born prematurely.

“21 years ago I was born premature--I weighed 2 lbs 9 oz.,” explained Donavan Westbrook. “I was scheduled to have a tracheostomy surgery, but by the grace of God, I ripped out my breathing tube and started breathing on my own--so it is my mission to give back.”

Donavan Westbrook was born at Chippenham Hospital weighing 2 lbs 9 oz.
Donavan Westbrook was born at Chippenham Hospital weighing 2 lbs 9 oz.(MTM Living Hope)

Westbrook founded the non-profit MTM Living Hope. The mission of the organization is to “provide hope, inspiration, and education for NICU units and families of premature infants.”

Sunday, the 21-year-old returned to Chippenham to present a $1,400 check to the NICU. Westbrook was able to reunite with Dolly Ratliff, a nurse who has worked at the hospital since 1986, and was one of the nurses who cared for Westbook.

“A lot of times when we bring these babies from the delivery room, you see the fear in the parents face and you see the joy when they walk out the door to take them home,” said Ratliff. “When they come back all these years later, or a year later or two years later--just to show you how well they’re doing, it makes my job just all the worth.”

Westbrook says it means world to him to get the opportunity to meet someone who helped him survive.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Westbrook. “Just to meet her and see her after being separated 21 years, it means the world to me.”

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