These Sewing Heroes Make Life a Little Easier for the Smallest SBS Patients

You’ve heard the saying, it takes a village to raise a child? Well, as much as the fiercely independent may chafe at the suggestion, it’s true: raising, teaching, and protecting a child takes the combined efforts of parents, family, teachers, neighbors, and a whole community of people whose lives intersect with children daily.

For children living with chronic diseases such as short bowel syndrome, you can also add a whole “village” of doctors, surgeons, specialists, nurses, clinical coordinators, and… sewing clubs?

Yup, it turns out your needlework enthusiasts can also play a critical role in the health and well-being of children. That’s what Mitch Wilson of Alabama discovered when his 3-year-old granddaughter Sufiera traveled to Nebraska Medicine at the University of Nebraska for a small bowel transplant.

Sufiera, who has short bowel syndrome, is covered in drains, tubes, and lines, including a gastronomy tube to help the little girl get the nutrition she needs as she grows and heals.

Being entwined in all this plastic would be incredibly frustrating for a grown adult, never mind a little girl who doesn’t understand why it’s important—and who’s natural inclination is to yank it out. There are belts available to hold all the tubes together, but they’re not cheap.


Enter Helen Worthan and her group, Holy Stitches.

For the past six years, the group has volunteered its time to Nebraska Medicine to create colorful hospital gowns, blankets, stuffed bears, and medical equipment covers for the youngest patients. When the staff caring for Sufiera saw the family’s frustrations, they got them in touch with Worthan and her group. After some brainstorming and trial and error, the group succeeded in crafting a stylish, comfortable belt to hold Sufiera’s tubes in place. Mitch and his family are grateful, and the hospital has adopted the design for other patients.

Stitching a tube-belt may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but this small gesture solved a very real problem the Wilson family faced in raising a happy and healthy child. And when you add all these small gestures up, they create something beautiful: A village built on love, protection, and support.

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Ronald Ledsen

Ronald Ledsen

After emigrating from his native Sweden, Ronald spent a stint in the Merchant Marines while trying to work out what he wanted to do with his life. He discovered a love of writing while helping a friend write anonymous Harry Potter fan-fiction online; he discovered meaning to his writing when he began journaling after an anxiety disorder diagnosis. Ronald is most relaxed when spending quiet time with his wife, two sons, and hyperactive cat.

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