Underweight. Fragile. Resilient. Our NICU nursing staff treats patients with these qualities every single day.So when Sandar, a newborn Bornean orangutan at Zoo Atlanta, displayed those signs, zoo officials turned to Children’s for help. The baby orangutan was not nursing well, losing weight and had been removed from his mother. The vet and one other helper had been working with him, and they were exhausted.
Our NICU nurses rallied, volunteering to help by setting up a schedule, undergoing training and caring for him 24/7. We worked 4- to 8-hour shifts, sharing our wisdom and expertise to care for the newborn. We felt privileged to help and participate. Our nurses gave so much love and care to Sandar. He was no different than any of our other patients—well, maybe just a little furrier.
Sandar struggled to maintain a normal body temperature and needed to have a feeding tube inserted in his nose so he got the right amount of calories. The volunteer NICU nurses made every effort to ensure the schedule to care for Sandar was always full. You might think it would be a challenge to find people to share their personal time, but we had 16 nurses on the volunteer schedule and at least 25 more were willing to help. Our commitment allowed Zoo Atlanta staff more time to focus on the veterinary care of the newborn—and all the other animal patients.
Sadly, after two months, Sandar passed away, but his presence had such an impact on our staff that he’ll be remembered forever. Whether it’s picking up an extra shift for a colleague or volunteering to watch over a sick orangutan, we love to help each other—and the Atlanta community. We’re a family at Children’s—and families take care of their own.
Chrys Fields and Melissa Goodbread
Staff Nurses, Children’s at Egleston