Tiny Infant Inspires Nice Guys to Give Lifesaving Gift


June 17, 2009  |  

$400,000 Donation to UC San Diego Medical Center will Enhance Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

On Tuesday, June 16, 2009, representatives from UC San Diego Medical Center gathered to express thanks to the San Diego Nice Guys organization for donating $400,000 to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The donation represents the largest gift ever to be received by the NICU which cares for many of the region’s most premature and critically ill infants. The inspiration behind the gift is a tiny infant named Isabella, whose one short life will help to save thousands more.

“One of our organization’s members was deeply touched by the story of Isabella. This person wanted to purchase the kind of beds needed to help premature infants like her to survive,” said Zach Zacharias, president of San Diego Nice Guys. “In this case, we saw a huge need in the hospital’s neonatal unit which gave Nice Guys an opportunity to make a donation which would make a long-term impact on the community.”

Nice Guys

The gift from Nice Guys will help to care for thousands of premature infants.

The Nice Guys gift will be used to purchase new “Giraffe” beds. Made by GE, the beds create a microenvironment in which to care for the babies. The beds function as an incubator and radiant warmer thus eliminating the stress of moving these fragile infants. Not only are the beds outfitted with the newest technology for monitoring cardiac and respiratory function, they can be equipped as surgical suites.

“This gift will make an enormous difference in caring for the increasing numbers of premature babies being born in San Diego,” said Neil Finer, MD, director of the Division of Neonatology at UCSD Medical Center. “We thank the Nice Guys from the bottom of our hearts for their profound generosity and also express our gratitude to the family of Isabella, a baby whose spirit has lifted us all.”

Born prematurely on September 6, 2004, Isabella spent three months in the UC San Diego Medical Center NICU. Weighing just over a pound, she was nicknamed “Feisty,” a fast-growing baby who charmed the hearts of her doctors and nurses.

“When Isabella was born, she weighed one pound and eleven ounces,” said mom Angela Amoroso, artistic director of Scripps Performing Arts Company. “She was so tiny that my wedding ring fit over her little wrist like a bracelet.”

Two days after Isabella’s birth, her parents, Amoroso and her husband Drew Skinner, founded Isabella’s Giraffe Club to raise funds for “Giraffe” beds.


UC San Diego Medical Center is grateful to the Amoroso-Skinner family for their kindness and support.

“My husband Drew is six feet and eight inches tall. I’ve always called him my giraffe because of his height and because he has a big, kind loving heart. Our friends teased us that we would give birth to a baby giraffe,” said Amoroso. “Since Isabella’s bed was also called a ‘Giraffe’ the connection seemed serendipitous. We knew right away, we wanted to help the hospital acquire more of these needed beds.”

Sadly, just a few days after returning home, Isabella passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. Though stunned by their loss, Amoroso and her husband Drew viewed Isabella’s passing as a calling to help others move through their grief. In Isabella’s name, they have expanded Isabella’s Giraffe Club, hosted American Girl Doll fashion shows, produced a music CD called Only for a Moment and written a new book, called Surrounded by Angels.

The Nice Guys is a non-profit, charitable organization representing 145 men and women from the San Diego region. With zero overhead and no paid staff, 100 percent of the funds they raise go directly to the community. Currently celebrating their 30th anniversary, The Nice Guys organization embodies a spirit of giving that has helped thousands of individuals and families in San Diego County.

The UC San Diego Medical Center labor and delivery service, specializing in low- to high-risk pregnancies is a nationally recognized center of excellence providing the highest level of care available for pregnant women and newborns. UC San Diego Medical Center became accredited as a Baby Friendly Hospital in 2006; one of a handful of academic hospitals to achieve this prestigious award.   

Private gifts from patients and friends help to support the university’s academic, research and clinical programs to advance the mission of UC San Diego Health Sciences as a premiere academic medical center. For more information about supporting the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit or other areas, please visit www.health.ucsd.edu/development or call (619) 471-9088.

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Media Contact: Jackie Carr, 619-543-6163, jcarr@ucsd.edu

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