She was the first Leap Day baby born at Richmond Memorial, now she works in healthcare

Posted at 6:59 AM, Feb 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-29 06:59:57-05

HANOVER COUNTY, Va.-- Oak Knoll Middle School nurse Patti Thompson has been waiting 4 years for this.

"Eda, I have a birthday this year!," she exclaimed.

She's only lived through a dozen February 29ths.

“I will be 12 this year," Thompson laughed.

Don’t let her fool you though, she's been around 48 years.

"We're gonna start going by 12 now," she giggled.

Thompson doesn’t remember the day she came into the world, but others might.

“I was the first Leap Year baby born at Richmond Memorial," she explained.

Her family has held onto a newspaper clipping celebrating their daughter’s birth since 1976.

Her historical status at Richmond Memorial, coupled with her family history of public service, led Thompson right back to the same hospital.

"My first job out of nursing school was at the new Richmond Memorial here in Hanover County," she said.

For 22 years, or about 5 birthdays, Thompson has worked in the healthcare field as an operating room nurse.

But now, she’s also caring for young students.

"They're so fun," noted Thompson. "They add so much spice to the day.”

By birthdays, Thompson is technically working alongside her peers.

"Now I can just say you're older than me," she laughed.

And she’s the first to explain to these young learners the extra day every four years keeps the calendar aligned with the solar year.

“I like to add the science part to it for them, you know, to grow that brain," Thompson expressed.

Her most rare birthday also gives her a chance to check in on them.

"We have such a mental health crisis right now, and it's fun to get them in here and talk to them and just make sure their day’s going well," she explained.

In some cultures, it’s considered unlucky to be born on February 29th, and Thompson admits being a Leap Day baby hasn’t always been a blessing.

"The year I turned 21, they would not let me in until March 1," she laughed. “I could never get Panera rewards because they don't recognize the 29th. It kicks it out every time."

But Thompson and her family make the most of every end of February.

"We celebrate all week long," she exclaimed.

But this year, her day is going well because her calendar finally says 29.

Thompson was born on the fifth Sunday in 1976.

We won’t have another fifth Sunday in February until 2032, or Thompson’s 14th birthday.

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