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Lifestyle

Preemie Son Cared For By Identical Hospital Nurse As Dad -- 33 Years Later

David Caldwell of Edison, the proud father, with his newborn son, Zayne,  and Lissa McGowen, their neonatal nurse.
David Caldwell of Edison, the proud father, with his newborn son, Zayne, and Lissa McGowen, their neonatal nurse. Photo Credit: Good Morning America

What are the odds that your new baby enjoys the care of the neonatal nurse who craddled you in the same Central Jersey hospital where you were born?

Ask David Caldwell, who pulled out his own baby book when his first child, a son named Zayne Alexander Caldwell, was born on Jan. 30.

Zayne was born 10 weeks early, weighing only three pounds, and was admitted into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick.

More than three decades earlier, in 1986, Caldwell was born several weeks early and spent around six weeks in the same NICU as his newborn son.

"I got the baby book out because wanted to compare photos of me and Zayne as babies and in the NICU," Caldwell, now 33 and a professional wedding photographer, told "Good Morning America."

Caldwell and his fiancee, Renata Freydin, Zayne's mom, were looking through his baby photos last week at their home in Edison when Freydin took a second look at one photo in particular.

The photo, taken by Caldwell's late mom, showed him being held by his mom's favorite nurse in the New Brunswick NICU, a woman named Lissa McGowan, on the day he was discharged from the hospital. Freydin recognized McGowan as the same nurse who had been taking care of Zayne in the NICU since his birth.

Caldwell described his own shock at learning the same nurse who cared for him as a newborn was now taking care of his son.

"It’s 33 years later and this does not happen every day," he told GMA. "She was the only nurse in my baby book. My baby book came apart and the photo stayed in there."

"I have never had this happen before," said McGowan, who started her nursing career at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in 1981. "It’s kind of unusual having your preemie come back after 34 years ... but to have a dad come in and be the dad of a preemie is a whole other story."

Saint Peter’s University NICU cares for about 1,500 babies per year, has 56 beds and employs 120 staff members.

Caldwell, the youngest of seven siblings, said he sees having McGowan care for his son as a sign that his mom, who passed away in 2004, is looking out for his family.

"I know my mom is watching down on me and her grandson and making sure that we’re in good hands and God is watching over us," Caldwell told GMA.

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