COBB COUNTY, Ga. - Renee Hendrix sat in shock as she looked at a room filled with children she’d once cared for in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit at WellStar Kennestone Hospital.
More than a dozen children and their parents stood in front of her with one purpose -- to say thank you to the woman who played a vital role in each of their lives.
Hendrix has been a NICU nurse at Kennestone since 1982. She says she was contacted by Kleenex about being a part of a commercial to celebrate neo-natal nurses day.
It wasn't until that afternoon that she realized she wasn’t just part of the commercial; she was the subject of it.
“I felt like my heart was just going to bust open. It was just so overwhelming. I was speechless, which is unusual for me,” Hendrix said.
Hendrix, a breast cancer survivor, spent the morning doing an interview with Kleenex about her work in the NICU.
“It’s just so rewarding. You see these babies with tubes and wires in them, and then as days pass, they lose a tube and lose a wire, and eventually, they go home. It’s just an amazing feeling to know you had a part in that,” she said.
After the interview, Hendrix went on with her day. She says around 6 o’clock that evening, her boss came to her and said Kleenex needed to see her again. She says her boss told her there was a problem with part of her interview, and they needed to redo it.
Turns out, that wasn’t the case at all.
As Hendrix walked into the building, she was asked to sit down and watch a video. She says that was the moment she realized what was happening.
The video contained interviews with parents of children she’d once cared for in the NICU.
“You get so attached, you know. You’re with them for three to four months in the hospital,” she said. “I feel like I not only take care of the babies, but I like to take care of the parents too,” she said.
The parents in the video thanked her for saving their childrens' lives, for staying by their side, for loving their children as her own and so much more.
“You are our hero,” said one mom.
“There are not enough words to thank you for what you’ve done,” said another.
While watching the video, Hendrix says she couldn’t stop her tears.
“I don’t do what I do for any kind of thank you, but it’s a wonderful feeling to be appreciated,” she said.
But that wasn’t the end of her surprise. When the video ended, Hendrix looked up as parents and children she’d once cared for walked into the room.
“Are you kidding me?” Hendrix says through tears.
The children each held a photo of themselves in the NICU.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was just in shock. To see those pictures of the babies and the children they’ve grown to be, it’s a miracle, really,” she said.
Hendrix says she keeps up with many of her patients, but it was incredible to have them all there at that moment.
“I love what I do. It’s a ministry for me. I believe God has put me there for a purpose, and he has given me a love for these babies and these parents.”
Hendrix says she is so thankful she was chosen, but that there are many other fantastic nurses who deserve to be honored as well.
The video ends by saying,” If there’s someone who made a difference in your life, show them.”
“The biggest thing for me is that I had four normal pregnancies, deliveries. I got to take my babies home, and these families don’t get to take their babies home, so I try to make their stay at the hospital as pleasant as it can be and as normal as it can be,” she said.
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