Tube teddies help sick kids understand their illnesses

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Fiona Allan

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Fiona creates teddies children understand are just like them

A Glasgow woman is putting a smile on the faces of sick children after creating teddies that look just like them.

Fiona Allan, 28, suffers from a serious genetic condition that caused her to be given a nasal feeding tube and a surgical catheter.

She found it hard to adjust to her new appearance but felt even more for children going through the same thing.

Now her teddies with feeding tubes and stoma bags are in demand.

And they are making a difference.

Fiona told the BBC Scotland news website: “As an adult I found it difficult to get used to life with extra medical things.

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Fiona Allan

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Fiona Allan struggled to come to terms with her feeding tube and decided to help others to deal with it

“I have Ehlers Danlos syndrome and spent a third of the year in hospital in 2017.

“For most of that year I had a nasal tube and had to get used to it.

“I do crafts and soon after I was asked by a friend to create a teddy for a little girl with autism.

“It went down really well and when photos were posted online I was asked for more.”

‘She needs them to survive’

Fiona believes the teddies – made with real fittings and tubes – help children adjust and also teach those around them about the child’s condition.

She said: “Sick children often have a non-sick sibling. It helps them get used to it. They can play with them, touch them and even learn what parents do to manage and clean them.

“For those children going to nursery they can play with the teddies and touch and pull the tubes without causing any harm to the child.”

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Fiona Allan

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One-year-old Darcey’s mum said the bunny distracts her from pulling at her own tubes

Fiona’s work helped one mum – Emily Cotton.

Her one-year-old daughter Darcey has three tubes and Emily was delighted with the benefits of the bunny she had made for Darcey.

Emily said: “The teddy has helped my daughter adapt to the medical devices she now has.

“It distracts her from pulling the real ones out of her and it is comforting and easy to explain to other small children why my little one needs all her tubes to survive.”

Fiona has made almost 20 of the bears now and she has found medical supply companies who are willing to give her out-of-date tubes to use, keeping her teddies true-to-life.

International Tube Feeding Awareness week runs from 4-8 February and Fiona feels she is paying it forward – passing on a kind deed – by doing what she does.

She said: “I am helping kids in the same situation I am in. And it’s worth it to make them so happy.”