It’s been five years, so Nelva Marcus doesn’t quite remember the baby’s name. But for one afternoon, they were attached at the hip, with Marcus as protective and attentive as if the girl was her own.

Marcus, a registered nurse, was assigned to the neonatal intensive-care unit at El Centro Regional Medical Center, where she was attending to the needs of a 7-day-old baby born prematurely at 33 weeks. The little girl was on oxygen and had been having apneic episodes — periods where the baby stopped breathing — throughout the night.

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