Lauren Wechsler was born with a terminal illness called craniosynostosis that impacts her neurological abilities and was not expected to live beyond age 25.
However, on Jan. 6, the 34-year-old had a lifelong dream fulfilled when nurses from the nonprofit Bayada Home Health Care, held a surprise ceremony with her parents Norman Wechsler and Daisy Concepcion where they presented Wechsler with an honorary nursing degree, complete with a certificate, a pair of scrubs and other goodies she’d need for her “nursing duties.”
Her primary nurse, Donna Davis, was also honored with a hero award for her compassionate and excellent care toward Wechsler and to thank her for all that she has done for the family, including helping her battle and overcome COVID-19. The award is part of Bayada’s Hero Program, which allows the company to recognize and reward those who exceed the highest standards of quality care and work ethic.
Wechsler’s mother and father spoke with the Bronx Times about the emotional day.
“It was very moving and touching,” Wechsler said. “I think it was a very lovely gesture on behalf of Bayada to give Lauren a little love.”
Wechsler explained that his daughter is a fighter. She has endured numerous surgeries that brought her near death and even battled COVID-19 in March.
He noted that only two people with this condition have made it to age 34. She’s getting weaker and can’t sustain any more procedures.
“It’s the fabulous care that she has gotten from the nurses and doctors that have kept her alive,” he stated. “They assured us when she was born she would never make it this long.”
According to Wechsler, his daughter is sweet, kind, caring, loves to write, read and can use computers. For years, it was her dream to become a nurse from Columbia University—and now he is glad it came true.
“Lauren is an angel on earth,” he commented.
Concepcion shared his sentiments. Even though her daughter often has problems with walking, eating, breathing and is in pain, she always greets people with a smile, hugs them and makes them feel welcome.
She expressed gratitude to the nurses who have done so much for Wechsler.
“It’s a miracle she has survived,” Concepcion said. “It’s a wonderful celebration of her life. The care she has received is amazing.”
Davis, who has been a nurse for 38 years, began taking care of Wechsler in 2012 and in 2017 joined Bayada. She explained she was assigned to her because of her background in critical care.
Over the years Davis has become a part of her family.
The ceremony was quite special for both of them and Wechsler will always be important to her.
“A big part of what I do is supporting the patient and the family,” she explained. “She’s just one of the rarities and she’s done extremely well.”