It was a freezing afternoon in December 1968 when nurse Beatrice Rasmussen finished her shift at the Allegheny hospital in Appleton, Wisconsin. When she got into her car, she saw a blanket in the passenger seat. Underneath the blanket was a newborn baby covered in blood with the umbilical cord attached. Bea rushed her inside. Because the hospital specialized in mental health, few nurses had emergency medical training. But Janet Pelzl was one who did.
"And so I started pressing lightly on the baby's chest as I was giving the baby puffs of air," Janet says. "And then miraculously she gasped and started breathing. I can still see that little baby lying there. She had dark hair and [was] just perfectly formed. Just a beautiful little girl."
The infant was transported to the city's medical hospital in critical condition. There she became known as Janet Holly—"Janet" in honor of the nurse who helped save her life and "Holly" because it was Christmas time.
The community showered love and concern on the newborn and there were many offers to adopt her.