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MSU student reunites with NICU nurse who cared for her 20 years ago

MSU student looks for NICU nurse
Posted at 9:19 AM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 11:08:58-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Sometimes in life you can't follow in your parents footsteps.

“My mom is a huge U of M fan, she was a U of M alum,” said Zoe Avery Sutter.

Sutter picked the other school. She is now a sophomore majoring in biology at Michigan State University.

“Through my childhood, my mom dressed me up in Michigan clothes and I was like ‘Oh my God. I hate this. This is not me,” Sutter said.

Maybe it started when she was born, thanks to a nurse and a onesie.

“She hand made me an MSU onesie and when my mom left for the day she put me in it," Sutter said. "When my mom came back she was like ‘oh my God, what is this?”

Turns out that nurse wasn't just responsible for Sutter's first outfit. You could say, that nurse saved Sutter's life.

“My mom had severe preeclampsia and so she had an emergency c-section,” Sutter said.

Born at 32 weeks and weighing two pounds, Sutter spent seven weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit at Sparrow Hospital.

“I was under the jaundice light I had an NG tube, all that fun stuff,” Sutter said.

That was 20 years ago, and not a day goes by where she doesn't think of that nurse. She thought maybe it was time to thank her.

“I was like, 'Wouldn’t it be cool if we could find her?'” Sutter said. “I was like, 'Yeah it’s totally a long shot, never going to happen. We won’t find her, no way.'”

Sutter took to social media posting the only pictures she had with the nurse. People responded.

“It just was really surreal to me that people cared so much and I was like why me, I’m an average person,” Sutter said.

But she's not an average person to Licia Clowtis.

It's been 20 years, but Clowtis thinks about that little baby all the time, too.

“Every office, I've had that picture of Zoe and I in my office because it just reminds me of what a wonderful time I had in the neonatal unit and just how fun it was to work with the families,” Clowtis said.

Clowtis said she made Sutter the onesie as a joke.

“I was teasing her mom's when I found out that they both worked at U of M and saying that I was going to corrupt Zoe and make certain that she went to Michigan State like a good Spartan,” Clowtis said.

She wanted to put a smile on her mom's face during a hard time.

“It was just one of those times when Zoe had gotten an infection, and they had a gown and glove every time they came in and so they were really worried," Clowtis said. "I just wanted to lighten the mood and kind of help them have a good experience.”

It's obvious Sutter and her family will never forget about Clowtis.

“I'm just so happy to see that they remembered me after all this time, you know, it was so long ago,” Clowtis said.

And Clowtis will never forget Sutter either.

“I'm very proud of her for making the great choice that she and I love that she's going into medicine,” Clowtis said.

Now that Zoe found her nurse, it's not going to be 20 years again.

“Looking back it just kind of happened the way it was supposed to happen and that it feels like it was destiny,” Sutter said.

Two lives forever tied together with a onesie and a laugh.

“We’re so so grateful for everything you did,” Sutter said.

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