OGDEN -- Recovering from heart surgery can be very painful. Just moving, breathing and coughing can aggravate an already sore chest.
Holding a small pillow against the chest can ease the discomfort patients experience after this major surgery. Knowing this, Braden Bell wanted to help.
The 13-year-old South Ogden Junior High School student and member of Boy Scout Troop 466 decided to help make 60 pillows for heart patients at Ogden Regional Medical Center and McKay-Dee Hospital. Not only does he feel good about his project, but he earned his Eagle Scout rank as well.
Braden heard about the project through the Weber-Morgan chapter of the Down Syndrome Foundation, which has made pillows for cardiac patients. Braden gave the foundation a call and asked if he could earn his Eagle by helping out.
Braden went to a fabric store and bought the items necessary to make the pillows, and along with several Down Syndrome Foundation children and members of his scout troop, spent hours sewing, stuffing and tying the pillows.
In early February, the groups met at Braden's church during an event called From Our Hearts to Yours and presented the pillows to representatives from each hospital. Braden also provided games and refreshments for everyone that evening.
"This is the second year that we've been chosen to receive these pillows for our heart patients," said Amber Dean, exercise specialist at Ogden Regional Medical Center. "Our patients were very touched by this gift last year. We are looking forward to passing out these pillows again this year."
McKay-Dee Hospital Foundation interim director Karen Burnett said during recovery, cardiac patients clutch pillows to their chests when coughing or practicing breathing exercises after surgery. The exercises help prevent pneumonia and keep airways open.
"The use of a pillow eases a patient's pain and provides comfort during their recovery," she said. "The McKay-Dee Hospital Foundation is honored and touched by the generosity of Braden Bell's Eagle Scout project. It's gratifying to know that people like Braden and the Down Syndrome Foundation are giving back to the community in such a wonderful way."
Braden said although he doesn't know anyone who has had heart surgery he has heard how difficult recovery can be.
"I've enjoyed making the pillows and helping the Down Syndrome Foundation," he said. "I think it's important to help other people and I feel good about it. I hope it can help the patients with their pain and help them recover."
Tausha Dingman, president of the Down Syndrome Foundation for Weber and Morgan, said the kids thoroughly enjoyed making the pillows again this year.
"A high percentage of our children with Down Syndrome have holes in their hearts when they are born and they end up having heart surgery sometime in their life," she said. "This has always been a very special project for them to be involved in. It's been a great way for them to give back to the community."