HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — 18-year-old Destinee Cooke was having a hard time breathing last week, so her boyfriend took her to the hospital.
“She wasn’t going to go, and he told her I think you need to go,” said Destinee’s mom, Tara. “And the doctor told her it’s a good thing she did, because she probably would’ve died if she didn’t, because her oxygen level was very, very low.”
Days later she’s still recovering at Sentara CarePlex Hospital in Hampton, but the timing couldn’t have been any worse.
She was admitted two days before her high school graduation.
“No 18-year-old should go without their graduation and be able to feel really special for one day,” said ICU manager Tracey Odachowski.
Odachowski says the ICU staff wasn’t going to let that happen, so they started making calls to her family and Kecoughtan High School administrators.
She couldn’t leave the hospital, but that didn’t mean the graduation couldn’t be brought to her.
They created a makeshift stage out of a hospital classroom, with plenty of smiles to go around.
“This diploma goes to Destinee Nicole Cooke — honors,” smiled Kecoughtan High School Principal Mark Dorsey.
With a turn of the tassel, the milestone was marked.
“I’m just happy I got to do all this and get my diploma still, I’m very grateful,” said Destinee.
For the hospital and school staff, it was just as special for them.
“Just to see the look on her face when she came down the hallway and saw everyone gathered there, it’s what life’s supposed to be about, we’re supposed to come together for each other,” Dorsey said.
“Sometimes you get too consumed in your job, you forget about moments like this, so to be a part of it was everything to me,” said nurse Shakira Norville.
Destinee’s mom says she was blown away by all the love.
“It felt great to know that so many people cared.”
Cooke has plans to go to cosmetology school next because she had a passion for doing makeup.