The emotional moment a nurse reunited with her two children after spending more than two months apart while she treating Covid-19 patients has been captured on camera.
Suzanne Vaughan, 43, from Norfolk, who works as an operating department practitioner at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn, made the difficult decision to separate from her daughters Bella, nine, and Hettie, seven, while she worked in the operating theatre and ICU during the Covid-19 peak.
Her regular job as an ODP is similar to nursing, looking after patients during the anaesthetic, surgical and recovery phases in theatre, and preparing equipment, but during the crisis she was seconded to work in ICU and the Covid-19 A&E.
She spent nine weeks away from her daughters to keep them safe, while she worked tirelessly on the frontline to treat those suffering from the coronavirus.
Her sister Charlotte who had been looking after the girls, posted footage on Twitter of the heartwarming moment that Suzanne was reunited with the family last Sunday.
Heartwarming footage of Suzanne reuniting with her children (pictured), shows the mother-of-two sneaking up on her daughters who had no idea they were about to be reunited at their aunt’s home in Norfolk
Suzanne wearing PPE at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn where she was seconded to work in A&E and the Covid-19 A&E during the crisis
Suzanne crept up behind her daughters and the three shared a tear-jerking cuddle for the first time in months.
The trio said their goodbyes on March 28 and the girls moved in with their aunt Charlotte in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.
Suzanne said: ‘I brought them to my sister’s home because I wanted to keep them safe, because I work at the hospital and was exposing myself to the virus each day.
‘But I also wanted to work more, and I couldn’t do more hours and keep the girls.
‘It was a really difficult decision, but it was a sacrifice that needed to be made.
‘Leaving them was very emotional because I didn’t know how long it would be until I saw them again – I never expected it to be nine weeks.
‘But so many others have made the same sacrifices because we want to help people and fight this virus.
‘It was something I needed to do – I started doing this job over 20 years ago because I wanted to help people.
Suzanne Vaughan, 43, made the difficult decision to separate from her two girls while she worked in a hospital operating theatre and ICU during the Covid-19 peak
Suzanne, was filmed reuniting with her daughters Bella, nine, and Hettie, seven, (pictured) after spending nine weeks apart
Suzanne who normally works 28 hours a week, opted to work over 50 hours each week in order to help the fight against the virus. Pictured: Suzanne’s daughters Bella and Hettie
‘I put work first for nine weeks, but I think now it’s time I put my girls first.’
The operating department practitioner (ODP) told her bosses at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Norfolk that she wanted to nearly double her hours due to the pandemic.
Suzanne, who normally works 28 hours a week, offered to work over 50 hours a week in order to help with the national effort against the virus.
She was working 12-hour days and nights, and spent three weeks in ICU before transferring to the Covid A&E department, assisting in airway management.
After over two gruelling months working round the clock, Suzanne had the chance to reunite with her two daughters and finally ‘put my girls first’
The doting mother said that her two daughters have taken every opportunity to cuddle her since they were reunited
The single mum says she FaceTimed her daughters each day and they never let her wake up for a shift without a good morning text.
Suzanne said: ‘We FaceTime each day and they will always text me good morning.
‘I was tired from work and wanted to see them, but I knew I couldn’t cuddle them so I stuck to it.
‘There were many times I thought to myself, “I can’t do this anymore”.
Bella and Hettie (pictured) revealed their grateful to be back with their mother and their 11-year-old Jack Russell Daschund cross Lotty
Suzanne revealed that she kept reuniting with her daughters a secret, in case something changed. Pictured: Suzanne with her children
Suzanne said that she couldn’t get used to her home being so quiet without her girls there singing and dancing
Suzanne who compares being with her girls to winning a gold medal, said they haven’t stopped cuddling since she’s returned. Pictured: Suzanne with Hettie
‘It was difficult the first few weeks, because I’d come home from work and they wouldn’t be there.
‘It was dead quiet, no one running about or screaming or laughing, it was horrible.
‘I don’t know what to do without them singing and dancing.’
But after nine weeks she was overworked and felt she needed to see her two girls.
She said: ‘I told my boss I needed to reduce my hours back to normal, and she was incredibly understanding and supportive.
Bella praised her mother and others who work for the NHS, dubbing Suzanne her hero. Pictured: Suzanne with Bella
Suzanne has reduced her working hours so that she has more time to spend with her daughters and can have them back at home with her
Suzanne said that the prospect of seeing her two daughters again was what kept her going during nine gruelling weeks on the coronavirus frontline
‘By the end I had a countdown to when I’d be seeing my girls again, and it was really the one thing keeping me going.’
Suzanne says she planned to bring the girls back home about a week before the surprise, but had to keep it a secret because she didn’t want to disappoint them if anything changed.
She continued: ‘We kept it a secret from them because I didn’t want to disappoint them in case something changed, but it was all worthwhile when I saw their reactions.
‘I just didn’t want to let them go and when they cried I just felt it in my heart. It was amazing.
The family kept in touch on FaceTime every day, and Suzanne said that the experience of being apart has made them closer than ever
The single mother said that she didn’t tell her daughters they were going to be reunited in case plans changed and they were left disappointed
‘I thought, “I can’t ever let them go again”.
‘I’m just glad to be with them now, I was so overwhelmed both physically and mentally, it was surreal.
‘We haven’t stopped cuddling for a minute since I’ve been back.’
She added: ‘Being home with my girls feels like I’ve won a gold medal – it’s brilliant.
‘We’ve always been close, but this has made us so much closer.’
She says her little girl Hettie kept asking if she could ‘go home to mummy’, and even said she would not cuddle if it wasn’t safe.
But she’s elated that she’s home with her mummy and their 11-year-old Jack Russell Daschund cross Lotty.
Hetty said: ‘I’m so happy to be back home. It makes me happy because I missed mummy the most. And then Lotty.’
Nine-year-old Bella added: ‘I think the NHS are really great people trying to save the world.
‘Mummy did a brilliant job. She had to be away to save people. She’s my hero.’
The clip of their rekindling racked up over 18,000 re-tweets, with Charlotte revealing the children had a counsellor call them once a week in addition to her care.
One follower admitted she ‘welled up’ after watching the touching moment, and thanked her for her sacrifices
The viral video shows Bella and Hettie watching a program on a laptop in a garden, blissfully unaware that their mother is sneaking up behind.
Suzanne bends down in between her daughters to join the viewing, but within seconds they spot her and share an emotional embrace.
As the daughters struggle to speak through tears, a small dog barks in the hopes of joining the group cuddle.
Mother-of-two Suzanne, is visibly touched by the unifying moment as she asks her children ‘are you okay?’
A stream of Twitter users have praised Suzanne’s selfless decision to spend time away from her family during the crisis.
One person wrote: ‘A stronger woman than me, I wouldn’t be able to function never mind save lives after nine weeks away from my kids. Wow well done!’
‘Ultimate sacrifice to make not seeing your children during these times. My youngest has a meltdown if I have to go into the office for half a day, so hats off to you and your little ones… well done,’ said another.
A third added: ‘I welled up and I’m not ashamed to admit it… beautiful moment… I really do hope these frontline workers get rewarded once this is over. The sacrifices they have made for us is phenomenal..’
A stream of responses to the video shared on Twitter, praised Suzanne for sacrificing time with her family to help others