Theresa Mae Robb, 24, nurse

May 29, 2000|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

Theresa Mae Robb, a picture in courage who battled tremendous odds to help others heal as an emergency room nurse at North Arundel Hospital, died May 21 at her apartment in Odenton. She was 24.

Miss Robb was born with a congenital birth defect called cystic hygroma, a vascular malformation that causes the growth of benign facial tumors.

Miss Robb, who had underwent more than 20 surgical procedures in her life, had been treated recently at Johns Hopkins Hospital for complications from major surgery.

"While it was very difficult, she always had a smile on her face," said her father, John J. "Jerry" Robb, a horse trainer. "She went through all of those surgical procedures, but when she was able, she would always ask us how we were doing."

Miss Robb's struggle with her disease was featured in "The Gift of a Smile," a documentary on the Discovery Health Channel that aired in December.

"Sometimes I wish I was like everybody else," she said in the documentary. "But now, looking back, I don't. I'm happy with who I am. And I am who I am because of what I went through."

In the documentary, Miss Robb credited her parents for sending her to public school and not shielding her from other children. "They just treated me like any other kid," she said.

Miss Robb was born in Annapolis and raised on her father's horse farm in Mayo. She graduated from South River High School in 1993; in 1998, she received a nursing degree from Towson University.

Her parents, who reside in Edgewater, said she knew from age 5 that she wanted to be a nurse "to help people go through what she went through," said her father.

Throughout her life, especially as an infant, Miss Robb had been in and out of hospitals for operations, and during those periods was surrounded by nurses. She underwent seven operations at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center before age 2.

Seven years ago, her mother also became a registered nurse.

"She was always such a good patient through all her surgeries. She was the reason I became a nurse," said her mother, Robin Gaskins Robb, who works in the Children's Center at Hopkins with nurses who once helped her daughter. "I just always knew how important it was when I was there with her to have a good nurse."

Miss Robb was a longtime fan of the Washington Capitals hockey team and the Washington Redskins football team.

She was a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church in Edgewater, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Thursday.

She also is survived by a brother, Donald L. Robb of Edgewater; a sister, Wendy Morris of Crofton; her maternal grandparents, William and Sally Fielder Gaskins of Edgewater; and her fiance, Mike Rose of Odenton.

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