A single mom was alone at the hospital with her son. Then a familiar face showed In 2006, Patricia Nieshoff's three-year-old son had a seizure. She was a single mother, with no one to accompany her to the hospital. But an hour into her hospital stay, a familiar face appeared.

This single mom was alone at the hospital with her son. Then a familiar face appeared

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1251641820/1252540889" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Time now for "My Unsung Hero," our series from the team at Hidden Brain. "My Unsung Hero" tells the stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else. And today's story comes from Patricia Nieshoff. One night in September 2006, Nieshoff, who's a single mom, was at her home with her 3-year-old son, Edward. He was asleep beside her when something alarming happened. He had a grand mal seizure.

PATRICIA NIESHOFF: And I was immediately aware of his irregular movements, and then the fact that he was unconscious - tried to rouse him, no success, called 911. The ambulance came within minutes. At the time we were living in Cambridge and the community was quite close-knit. So when everything pulled up - the ambulance and the fire engine - everyone was out in the street looking worried and gesturing, call me. But I was so focused on my son. I left the front door of the condo wide open, and my keys, my wallet, my phone. I left everything. I just got into the ambulance.

Once we got to Children's, they immediately settled us into a dimly lit room, and my son, still unconscious, was whisked away for CAT scan. And then I sat there, and I thought, what am I going to do? - without any money or the ability to call anybody for advice. So I was feeling pretty alone. Miraculously, within an hour, a familiar face appeared at the door, and it was Chris, the father of the kids across the street. After the ambulance had left, he'd gone into our condo, picked up my wallet, keys, my phone, locked everything up, picked up a stuffed animal as well for my son, called around to hospitals apparently and found us and came. I practically flung myself at his legs and dissolved into tears. I kept saying, you can go. But the tone was, please don't leave me here alone. And he didn't.


NIESHOFF: He stayed through the night, and he drove us all home the next morning. And I've thought over the years often about his kind gesture. At some point during the night, I asked him, why did you come, you know? And he said, long ago, I was not there for someone. And I told myself if there was a chance to be there for someone in the future, then I would do it. And he absolutely did. And I'm immensely grateful that people like Chris exist in the world.


CHANG: Patricia Nieshoff lives in Lexington, Mass. Her son never had another seizure again. He's now a college student in Dublin, Ireland. You can find more stories like this on the "My Unsung Hero" podcast.


Copyright © 2024 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.