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South Bend family thanks Tacoma NICU nurse 21 years later

TACOMA, Wash. -- Sometimes in life, we meet people who make a lasting impression. Maybe it was a middle school teacher or a firefighter.

For a South Bend Family, it was a NICU nurse who helped save the life of a premature baby who wasn’t supposed to survive.

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“I was told she probably would not make it and she had a lung rupture the next day,” said mother Marcy Williams.

On February 26, 1997, baby Allie entered the world with slim chances of seeing her first birthday.

But the staff at Tacoma General Hospital, one nurse, in particular, helped Allie fight for a chance at life.

“Feeding her first bottle, putting her in her first swing, she was the first one who did all that,” said Williams.

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It was Nurse Rhonda who helped baby Allie keep fighting.  She started growing and fitting into clothes made with Velcro and handmade by Allie’s aunt.

“She made Velcro dresses. She handmade those. And she even put headbands with them,” said Williams.

After three and a half month, Allie went home.  Just last month, she turned 21 years old.  And for a while now, she’s been eager to one day meet the woman who nursed her to health.

“I heard stories from my parents of how hard she worked and the special things she did and how wonderful of a nurse she was.  And she was a big part of my life,” said former NICU baby Allie Williams.

With only pictures and memories remaining, Allie’s loved ones started making phone calls just hoping to track down the devote nurse.

“Exciting and nervous and overwhelmed,” said Williams.

That reunion finally happened Saturday, 21 years in the making.

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It was at Tacoma General Hospital where NICU nurse Rhonda Fouch got her first nursing job.

“It was a wonderful job for 21 years,” said former NICU Nurse Rhonda Fouch.

She spent those years helping countless babies and families.

“Compromised immune system and a lot of them have respiratory difficulties and need special equipment to go home with,” said Fouch.

Nurse Rhonda worked to try to make sure each of her babies went home.

“It was my pleasure. My absolute pleasure. I’m glad I could do it,” said Fouch.

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In a bag, Marcy Williams carries all the momentous from Allie’s time in the NICU.  And two decades later, the three of them finally back together again.

“I waited forever, and it was well worth it,” said Williams.

Fouch now works as a medical receptionist after a motor vehicle accident left her unable to continue being a nurse.  Allie is now enrolled in college, holds a job, and hopes to one day run a daycare or become a teacher.