"I just was very floored that it would happen," said Michele Kiser, the girl's mother. "I just could not believe that someone would steal from a sick child."
Police say former Hershey Medical Center nurse Suzanne E. Pinkney stole the "Halo the Angel Bear" Beanie Baby from the child on Dec. 8, then struggled with officers who later confronted her.
Ms. Pinkney denied the charges Friday and said a hospital employee falsely accused her.
Pinkney, a licensed practical nurse at the hospital for more than two years, said hospital staffers had ostracized her when they found out the white woman is married to a black man. "I have many grandchildren who I love dearly, and I would never take from a child," she said. "To be accused of something so disgusting, it's a nightmare."
Pinkney was charged last week with theft by unlawful taking, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Police said she took the toy - a white bear with angel wings valued at $70 - from the bed of Nicole Kiser, who nearly died from a closed heart valve and complications.
Her mother said Nicole was hospitalized from Oct. 21 through Dec. 18. She needed emergency surgery after going into cardiac arrest one night. "She was one of those few that they didn't think was going to make it," she said.
But she did make it. And during her recovery, Nicole befriended nurse Carolyn Robertson, who gave her the Beanie Baby to comfort her.
Nicole's family placed the bear on the foot of her bed and took her downstairs for lunch. When they returned an hour later, the toy was gone. "My daughter was really upset," Michele Kiser said. "I mean, this bear meant a lot to her."
Kiser told a nursing supervisor, who then found the toy wrapped in paper towels in Pinkney's lunch bag, police said.
When Derry Township police arrived they say Pinkney first denied the theft and cursed at the officers. "OK, I admit it," she then allegedly told them. "I made a big mistake." Police said they found the toy in her car trunk.
Pinkney denies the bear was found in her trunk. She said she did make the statement about making a mistake, but it was in reference to initially refusing to allow police to search her car - not an admission of guilt. "I've never been in trouble before," she said. "I've never done anything, and I can't believe this is happening to me."
Nicole is now is doing well, recovering well at home.
Hershey Medical Center officials would not comment on the matter saying only that Pinkney no longer works at the hospital.