‘It was just fate’: Couple discovers same NICU nurse cared for father, son 34 years apart

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (WCBS/CNN) - After three decades, one New Jersey family is in the same safe hands as a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit cares for the son of a man she cared for years ago.

Lissa McGowan, a nurse at Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, cared for both David Caldwell and his son, Zayne, three decades apart. (Source: Renata Freydin/WCBS/CNN)

When Renata Freydin and her fiancé David Caldwell gave birth to baby Zayne 10 weeks early at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the new parents didn’t know what to expect.

"It's the hardest thing I ever had to do: to leave here without him,” Freydin said.

But the parents’ minds were put to ease when they discovered Zayne’s NICU nurse, Lissa McGowan, had also cared for his father 34 years ago when he was born premature at the same hospital.

“Me and her [Freydin] kept going back and forth: ‘He looks like me. No, he looks like me.’ So, I was just like, ‘I’m gonna go get my baby book and settle this,’” Caldwell said.

When Caldwell found the picture of himself as a newborn, he and Freydin were shocked to discover that just like his son, he was in the arms of McGowan, who has worked at the hospital for 38 years.

"His mom passed away in high school, and she was the one who told him about Lissa, saying, ‘She's such an amazing nurse. This is the one who took care of you when we were in the hospital.’ So, we keep thinking it's just her saying we have this angel for you," Freydin said.

Knowing Zayne is in McGowan’s hands gives the parents solace, even though they don’t know for sure how long their son will have to stay in the hospital. He has already been there for three weeks.

“It just was fate. It just came full circle,” McGowan said. “I like to tell parents that I’m sorry you have to be here because it’s unsettling and nerve-wracking. But I’m very happy that we’re here for you.”

Copyright 2020 WCBS, Renata Freydin via CNN. All rights reserved.