The baby with the bucket list

Document Type



Emergency Medicine


Betty is dead, Baba. My friend told me,” said Noori, my 5-year-old kindergartner, when I picked her up from school that day. I had known that since it was on CNN.

Betty wasn't quite 6 months old and had recently been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Although I am a pediatrician, I must remind myself that everything becomes recent when you are just 6 months old. Baby Betty, as she was fondly called, became a household name after the blog written by her dad went viral. Betty was the only baby I had known with a bucket list. Several things were mentioned on the list: being able to sit up, kissing and hugging mommy and daddy, getting a tattoo, manicure and pedicure, and such. Given her diagnosis, the remarkable infant managed to achieve quite a few of the items listed there, and in the process she managed to win thousands of hearts the world over.

Betty was very special for a number of reasons. I got to know the baby entirely through Noori and the baby's mother, Gloria, who was a kindergarten teacher…no…THE kindergarten teacher who taught Noori. She was the kind of kindergarten teacher that I never had when I was Noori's age. Gloria and her kindergarten classroom were the inspiration for Noori and me to start writing a joint memoir called The Kindergarten Diaries, through which Mr. Teddy Graham, Valentine's Day, anniversaries, and the like, were captured through the eyes, mind, and heart of the daughter–dad duo.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.