NICU Nurses Use $10K Lottery Win to Help 2 Colleagues in Need

"The incredible generosity that these nurses have was just amazing to me"

When more than a hundred nurses in St. Louis pooled their money for Mega Millions tickets, they hoped to win the $1.59 billion jackpot. Instead, they scored a small win that had a big impact on two colleagues in need.

Nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at St. Louis Mercy Children's Hospital won $10,000 in a Mega Millions drawing in October. Rather than split their winnings among the 126 nurses and each get about $79 before taxes, they opted to split the prize in two. They presented checks to a neonatalogist whose son had recently died by suicide and a nurse whose husband is fighting cancer.

"The incredible generosity that these nurses have was just amazing to me," Dr. Casey Orellana's husband, Phil, told NBC Nightly News. He was diagnosed with sarcoma cancer earlier this year.

Orellana, a mother of four, cut her hours in half to care for her family. She echoed her husband's gratitude.

"I just felt like it was an answer to a prayer," she said.

Nurse Stephanie Brinkman, who organized the lottery pool, couldn't believe her eyes when colleagues told her they had a winning ticket.

"I honestly thought I was seeing things," she said.

The nurses' excitement soon turned to sadness; they learned that nurse Gretchen Post's 17-year-old son died by suicide on the night of the lottery drawing. They talked and decided to give half the funds to Post's family, to pay for the teen's funeral, and half to Orellana's family.

"I was very grateful for the thoughtfulness and the generosity," Post said.

Brinkman, who coordinated the lottery pool, said she hoped the nurses could be an inspiration.

"Maybe it will encourage others to spread kindness," she said.

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