Nurses often develop special relationships with their patients, but Angela Farnan, a primary charge nurse at OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois, took things one step further when she and her husband decided to adopt a newborn in the pediatric ICU. After caring for the child, Farnan just couldn’t bear the thought of saying goodbye. It’s a heart-warming story that speaks to the unshakeable bond between a nurse and their patient.
A Difficult Situation
Blaze was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart defect, in 2017. He had his first surgery when he was just three days old, with another one several months later.
Farnan was one of the nurses caring for Blaze in the ICU. She says the biological family lived far away and couldn’t afford to pay for their son’s care or the cost of traveling to and from the hospital. They also had other children at home. To help pay for care, Farnan set up a short-term guardianship with permission from his parents.
“Let’s help this family out,” Rick Farnan told his wife at the time.
“You can’t help but fall in love with this little boy,” Angela recalls. “He wasn’t mine. I knew that. But I was crushed.”
Shortly after Blaze’s second heart surgery, his biological mother asked Farnan if she wanted to adopt her son.
“It was quite an emotional day because my husband and I fell in love with him and it was getting closer and closer to when we had to give him back,” Farnan said.
She says the decision wasn’t made lightly. Nothing could be more heartbreaking than saying goodbye to your child.
“[Blaze’s mom] said she and her husband were discussing us keeping Blaze on a permanent basis,” Farnan added. “She was crying and said, ‘I just don’t want anyone to feel like I’m a bad mom.’ I said she just made the best decision as a mom and there was no question that she loves Blaze.”
Farnan and her husband Rick were thrilled to welcome Blaze into their lives. “Becoming a parent for the first time, I can’t describe the feeling,” Farnan said. “It was one of the best days of our lives.”
A New Family
Blaze Farnan, now three years old, couldn’t be happier with his new family. Angela says he has a sweet personality and enjoys dancing to “Baby Shark”.
“I really feel that he has blessed our lives,” Farnan added. “He’s full of joy. His smile lights up the room.”
Bouncing off the walls, Blaze runs over to his mother, yelling, “Mom! Mom! I want to build a fort!”
“A fort? You’re a bundle of energy!” she replies with a smile.
Angela and her husband say they never expected to become parents at this stage in life. “The thought of me having a 3-year-old is like, ‘Wait, am I really 55?’” she says.
She remembers watching her mother take care of children at the local daycare where she grew up. “I just always wanted to take care of children,” Farnan says. “And I always knew in some way it would be special-needs children.”
She now considers herself the “captain” of the pediatric ICU where she works. “It’s not just a job to me. It’s a calling,” she says. “I believe God put me where I am able to take care of those kids.”
Angela continues to create awareness for children born with congenital heart defects by participating in the Heart of Illinois Congenital Heart Defect Walk. The annual fundraiser provides support and services for children and adults with heart defects as well as their parents and family members.
Even though Blaze continues to live with his condition, he looks and acts like every other five-year-old. “He is an animal,” Angela says, chuckling. “He plays hard. I look at him and get tired.”