A new mom was treated to a heartwarming gesture when her Uber driver took her on a spontaneous shopping spree for her baby, who’s in the hospital for a life-threatening condition.
Kansas City mom Nikki Ihus has been at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Florida while her son, John Henry, receives treatment for a life-threatening birth defect, she told WFLA. John has a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a rare condition where a baby is born with a hole in their diaphragm, which can cause organs from the abdomen to go through the open space and into the chest cavity, according to the American Pediatric Surgical Association.
The defect is rare, and only affects about 1 in every 4,000 babies, the association reported. But the condition can cause the lungs to form underdeveloped, a potentially fatal symptom that can cause an infant to breathe abnormally.
Ihus brought John to the St. Petersburg hospital because of their high survival rate for treating babies with CDH, she told WFTS. But that means the two are far from home, and far from their belongings, so Ihus ordered an Uber last week with the plans of buying clothes for her baby while he’s in the hospital.
That’s when Ihus met her Uber driver, Belinda Smith.
“She needed to talk and I was there to listen,” Smith told WFTS. “People don’t listen anymore. I believe people get in my car for a reason other than a ride.”
Her kindness immediately touched Ihus, who said she had been feeling lonely and homesick.
“I hopped in the car and I think she could tell I wasn’t having the best day,” Ihus recalled to the news station.
“She told me her story. She was in tears a couple of times and I really felt for her,” Smith told WKRG.
Ihus and Smith talked as they made their way to the destination, the consignment shop Rhea Lana’s. When they arrived, the two said goodbye, the same way millions of typical Uber rides have ended.
But this time, something was different — Smith couldn’t help but reflect on what Ihus was going through with a sick child in the hospital. She was a mother, too.
“She touched my heart,” Smith told WFTS. “So I parked the car and turned Uber off. I went in and I found her and said, ‘This is a day that should be fun for you. And you shouldn’t be alone. Let’s shop.’”
After Ihus finished her shopping, Smith had one more surprise for her — she was going to buy all 30 items of baby clothes Ihus picked out.
“I cried a lot,” Ihus said of the special moment.
The two have kept in touch, Ihus told WFTS, and Smith even visited John Henry in the hospital the week after her kind gesture.
“For this stranger to go completely out of her way — stop what she was doing and stop making money — to come be with me for a couple of hours while we shopped together, that was just incredible,” Ihus told WKRG. “She is my hero.”
To help with John Henry’s medical costs, a GoFundMe has raised $3,300 of its $10,000 goal as of Friday afternoon.