Support In Every Stitch
Support In Every Stitch
By Jodi Weeks, NEHA Outreach and Engagement Manager
Posted: January 24, 2023. Originally printed in NEHA’s Fall 2022 Newsletter.
Many patients with bleeding disorders have ports put into their bodies to help administer their factor. A port (also called a Port-A-Cath®) is an implanted disk-like device that allows you to easily access the patient’s vein. A tube runs inside the body from the disk to a large vein where factor can be injected through the disk using a needle. The only thing that can be seen is a raised bump on the chest created by the disk underneath the skin.
Some caretakers, like parents of young children, find it easier to administer factor via a port as opposed to needing to find a vein each time. These are used for a broad range of patients that involve intravenous injections, like bleeding disorders, cancer, cystic fibrosis, immune disorders and more.
When she was younger, Jocelyn’s close friend was being treated for cancer, and has a port implanted to help administer her medicine. She learned from her friend that while these can be incredibly helpful, they can become uncomfortable during everyday activities, like wearing a seatbelt. Jocelyn and her Girl Scout troop decided to put their skills to work to help those in need by making port pillows. Port pillows are placed in between the seatbelt and the patient’s chest to eliminate or reduce the seatbelt rubbing on their port.
These crafty items consist of recycled scrap cotton and stretch-cotton from sewing masks, scrunchies, etc. as well as quilting thread, poly-fil stuffing, and 3.5 inches of Velcro to be used to secure the pillows to seat belts. The fabric is cut 4.5 by 7 inches, and held together by both a zig-zag stitch (to make the actual outside of the pillow), and a whip-stitch (to close it all up at the end).
While she originally made these for cancer patients, she soon learned that they could help other people living with a port; like her younger cousin, Gabe, who has hemophilia. She spent over a month hand-making port pillows to donate to NEHA’s First Connection program. These port pillows will be included in our new family welcome kits for families that have ports. We’re incredibly proud of Jocelyn for putting so much time and effort into making these for our community.
Outside of making port pillows, she has also decided to run a small craft-business and make and sell unique accessories such as wire-wrapped crystal rings, hand-beaded jewelry, earrings, scrunchies, headbands, and masks (port-pillows are also available there but are completely free upon request). To request a port-pillow, email [email protected].
Jocelyn Connors is a high school student in Attleboro, MA. Her cousin, Gabe, has hemophilia. Learn more about Jocelyn’s crafting work on Facebook under the group Rose Made Crafts, or on Instagram at @rosemade.crafts.