Devoted PICU Nurse Adopts Sick Baby to Give Him the Care His Parents Couldn't -- With Their Blessing

Jim Carlson/OSF HealthCare

Angela, Rick, and Blaze Farnan
Jim Carlson/OSF HealthCare

Pediatric nurses are some of the most kind and selfless people around, caring for dozens of critically ill children at a time as if they were their very own. Angela Farnan is no exception. As the pediatric intensive care nurse told People last week, whenever anyone asks how many children she has, her answer is always the same: 15 to 20, depending on the day. But when she returns home from work each day, she has just one child she calls her own: a boy named Blaze, who was born with a serious heart condition last year that left him medically fragile.

Angela became a medical foster mom to the boy when his parents were unable to care for him, and she has since adopted the boy with his birth family's blessing.

  • Angela's unexpected journey to parenthood began on May 30, 2017, when Blaze was born at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital in Illinois.

    He'd been diagnosed with a life-threatening condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which caused the left side of his heart to be underdeveloped, and underwent heart surgery at just 3 days old. During his recovery, Blaze was immediately transported to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), which is where Angela first laid eyes on the little boy she would one day call her own.

    It didn't take her long to fall in love.

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  • “This little guy has such personality,” Angela told People. “I was just drawn to him.”

    At the same time, Blaze's parents, who already had several other children and lived far from the Peoria hospital, weren't able to be at his bedside as much as he needed. In their absence, Angela and other devoted PICU staff members became Blaze's unofficial "family" as he recovered. They cared for him around the clock for months, until he was finally able to be discharged in December. 

    But it was at that point that Blaze's family came to a crossroads: He still needed intensive, 24/7 care at home -- something they weren't sure they could provide him. That's when Angela, 53, and her husband Rick, 57, stepped in. For the time being, they would be his medical foster parents -- at least until he had his next surgery, which was scheduled for March 2018.

  • During those months, the Farnans formed an incredible bond with little Blaze -- so much so, that they didn't want to say goodbye.

    But as it turned out, they wouldn't have to. In March 2018, Blaze's mother came to them with an unexpected request that left them overjoyed: She asked if they would legally adopt Blaze, so that he'd be given the kind of devoted care he truly deserved.

    Without a second thought, the Farnans agreed, and the adoption was finally legalized in June 2018 -- one month after Blaze's first birthday. “We love Blaze so much,” Angela said. “We are so happy to have him.”

  • The last year has been filled with moments the Farnans never thought they'd experience, because they were unable to have biological children themselves.

    Although it hasn't been easy, considering Blaze's medical condition, they've had a loving support system around them at all times. In fact, whenever Angela or Rick aren't able to watch Blaze, they have a pretty incredible backup team: Angela's fellow PICU nurses, who show up at a moment's notice and double as great babysitters.

    “He’s never without anyone who isn’t ultra-qualified to watch him,” Rick told People. “We’ve become a family of all these people who jumped in to help.”

    Those same incredible nurses were also there the day Angela was told she could take Blaze home for the first time and was totally unprepared.

    “I worked my 12-hour shift before I took him home,” Angela shared. “That night, a crib and a car seat were delivered. They gave me a Pack ‘n Play, diapers, everything.”

  • The last year has been nothing short of "amazing," the Farnans say, thanks in large part to the community of nurses who rallied around them.

    Blaze at home
    Jim Carlson/OSF HealthCare

    "It is one big happy family up here,” Angela told the outlet. “They have played a huge role in my ability to take Blaze home."

    Here's to the kind nurses who stepped in when the Farnans needed them most and to the Farnans for opening their home and their hearts to a little boy who needed their love. But most of all, here's to Blaze, who is proving with each new day that he was born a true fighter.