SAN FRANCISCO - Robin Williams was not just a remarkable performer, he was also a humanitarian who reached out to people in need, often without needing or wanting publicity for his efforts.
Pediatrician Carrie Chen did her residency at the University of California-San Francisco. "The nurses always told us that that he came in every Christmas Day," she said. "No one knew about it, he just came in."
Chen remembered that on Christmas Day in 1998 she was part of a team of pediatricians at San Francisco General Hospital who had just finished stabilizing a premature baby born at 28 weeks.
Williams had come onto the pediatric ward with toys for all the patients.
He asked where all the obstetricians and pediatricians were and the nurses told him they'd been in with a premie.
"He asked if he could come in and because they baby was stable, we said yes," she said.
When Williams saw the tiny baby, he "completely teared up. He looked us each in the eye and thanked us for being there to take care of this child on Christmas Day," she said.
Then he went out onto the ward and gave each child a new Nintendo video game, at the time a very popular—and expensive—gift. "It wasn't just little present he was giving," Chen remembered.
"I think he just truly wanted to do good. He didn't care about the publicity. No one knew he was there, he just slipped in. He just wanted to come and give those children a Christmas present," she said.
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