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    Posted August 14, 2013 by
    Danvers, Massachusetts
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    From hobby to job

    Hobby turned to necessity

    We wish we did not need to invent our products, but we were desperate and did so out of necessity. My wife loves to design fun things and sew. She is always working on something. She has a great hobby and put it to great use – we never bought a winter hat; she made them. Our diaper bag - homemade. Then our family’s life changed in 2011. In January, my wife Kezia was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and started chemotherapy in February. Her sewing projects were put on hold. Then a few months later in May, our 11-month-old daughter, Saoirse, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma – an aggressive pediatric cancer.

    Our daughter had a PICC line placed just one day after her diagnosis so treatment could be administered right away. A PICC Line is a long, slender, small, flexible tube that is inserted into a peripheral vein, typically in the upper arm, and advanced until the catheter tip terminates in a large vein in the chest near the heart to obtain intravenous access. The line came out at her right bicep, and hung down all the way to her hand. This new attached “toy” was now a drumstick, teething toy, and something to tug on. When we asked the nurse how to secure the lines and caps the only suggestion they had was to use a sock or tape. Saoirse developed a bad rash from the tape.

    It was unacceptable to us that there was not a safe solution, so Kezia decided to fix that and create a solution. It was my night to stay with Saoirse at Children’s Hospital Boston. Kezia went home and broke out her sewing machine, grabbed some cotton knit fabric she had in her spare fabric bin, figured out a solution and created a sleeve. The next morning, Kezia arrived at the hospital with a little sleeve that she thought would allow us to secure Saoirse’s PICC line tubes and caps safely without the use of irritating tape, and at the same time keep her from playing with it, teething on it, tugging at it or getting it caught on external objects: possibly ripping it out. It worked! It was simple, comfortable for her to wear, and when Kezia put it on Saoirse, she forgot about her PICC. She went back to playing with her toys, and ignored her new accessory. Kezia and I relaxed – we didn’t have to keep telling her not to play with her PICC, and we could focus on other things. Three weeks later, Saoirse had her PICC line removed and a central chest line placed. A central line is a long, thin, flexible tube used to give medicines, fluids, nutrients, or blood products over a long period of time, usually several weeks or more. We had the same problem. The lines were hanging down into her diaper and she was constantly getting them caught on things. The nurses had no consistent way to keep the lines and caps safe and secure without the use of tape. Again, this was unacceptable to us. So Kezia went back to the sewing machine and made her a wrap to go around Saoirse’s chest.

    These products that Kezia just “whipped up” became popular with the nurses and other patient’s parents. Saoirse’s nurses loved her little sleeve and later her central line wrap. They could access her lines without having to take off a bunch of tape, and they noticed she was much more comfortable. Other parents liked our idea as well, and were soon asking if Kezia could make sleeves for their kids. That’s when we realized that this was more than a solution for our child alone – this was something that needed to be available for everyone. So I put a provisional patent on the products and went back to caring for my wife and daughter. While my wife’s cancer went into remission, Saoirse’s cancer became more aggressive, and she lost her battle with Neuroblastoma in December 2011.

    After taking some time to ourselves, my wife and I knew we wanted to help other patients and families living with external catheter lines and give the healthcare industry a standardized way to secure lines and caps. We started CareAline Products, LLC. It was important to us for our fabric and final product to be manufactured in the USA, so we found a Massachusetts sewing contractor and a California fabric producer. We found an investor who had the same beliefs of bringing a quality product to the market solely produced in the USA that will help others, and with the support from friends and family we brought CareAline Sleeves and Wraps to market for patients and hospitals.

    We feel good about the hard work we put into finding US manufactures. They are out there and eager to gain business. It took a lot of phone calls and visits before finalizing our manufacturer, but when we did we felt an instant connection. When we look at our products, we think about the workers who made it – We have met them. They live here; they work hard and make a high quality product at a great price. We have no regrets in making the decision not to look overseas for production. Ultimately, our wish is to provide much needed comfort and safety for patients and their caregivers, while honoring our daughter, Saoirse, and her courageous battle.
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