FATE came knocking when Dr Felix Castillo was reunited with a very special patient after over two decades.
On December 4, 1997, a little girl was born three months early at Vall d’Hebron Hospital in Barcelona, weighing just 800 grams. A born fighter, Noelia Ruiz spent the first 12 weeks of her life in an incubator, battling to survive with the help of nurses and doctors by her side.
The team was led by head of Neonatology, Dr Castillo- and Noella never forgot what he did for her.
Inspired by the doctor who saved her life went on to become a nursing assistant.
Noelia, now 24, works at the very same hospital where she was born – and she couldn’t wait to catch up with the doctor she owed it all to.
The young nursing student plucked up the courage to knock on Dr Castillo’s door and the pair had an emotional reunion almost exactly 24 years on from the day they first met.
Dr Castillo said he was ‘absolutely surprised’ to open the door to Noelia and learn of her story.
The doctor recalled that in 1997, the survival rate for 24-week-old infants was dangerously low.
He said: “The life expectancy of a baby born at 24 weeks at that time was very unlikely and our means and knowledge was very limited.
“We could keep a child alive but what we didn’t know was what the neurological damage could be when the child grew older.
“I am delighted that Noelia is not only healthy but very smart.”
Noelia said of the reunion: “It was very nice. I found out that he worked there because I spoke with a colleague and she told me.
“I went to his office, introduced myself and he told me about my case. We were both very excited to see each other again.”