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Aiden and his grandfather, Allan Sr., with their donation of lily pads.

Young patient’s donation helps other kids have fun

When kids have to spend hours in the hospital tethered to an IV pole, the tiniest bit of fun and freedom can make all the difference in the world.

It was with that in mind that 5-year-old Aiden and his grandfather, Allan Sr., recently donated six handmade lily pads to Children’s Wisconsin’s infusion clinic. Lily pads are decorative wood platforms that attach to the bottoms of IV poles.

“During infusions, kids are hooked up to IVs anywhere from three to eight hours at a time,” said Anne Riegert, RN. “Lily pads allow these small children to more easily move around the hospital and have a little fun during their treatment.”

Aiden has been coming to Children’s Wisconsin since he was 2 years old to treat common variable immune deficiency (CVID), a genetic disorder that weakens his immune system putting him at-risk for serious infection. Monthly infusions help strengthen his immune system.

Until Aiden’s recent donation, the infusion clinic only had one lily pad, made by the staff and painted with a crouching, web-shooting Spider Man.

“The lily pad project started about three years ago after a nurse saw a news report about a patient at Seattle Children’s Wisconsin named Nick Konkler who came up with the idea,” said Emily Neibauer, MS, RN. “All the nurses were very excited to give our little patients something to do or to help the parents move them around the unit during their long infusions.”

But it wasn’t so easy. From facilities and patient safety to infection prevention, many different departments needed to be consulted before this project could move forward. Once they all approved it, the lily pad was a hit.

“The kids and the families loved it,” said Neibauer. “We handed out surveys and collected data for over a year to help determine if the project was a success.”

It was most definitely a success, perhaps too much. With only one lily pad for the whole clinic, it became something of a hot commodity. One day Aiden came for infusion he was dismayed to find another patient had already claimed the IV pole with the Spider Man lily pad.

“Aiden’s father thought if they were going to be coming to the clinic every month for treatment, they should have more lily pads,” said Allan Sr.

Aiden’s father got a template for the lily pad shape from the clinic and got to work.

Tragically, before he was able to complete the project, Aiden’s father unexpectedly passed away due to complications from the same immune deficiency disorder than Aiden has. Shortly after his passing, Aiden’s grandfather came across the blueprints for the lily pads and decided to finish his son’s project.

Each lily pad includes a memorial to Aiden’s father.

The family enlisted the help of Stoney Ridge Woodworking and Roger Boldt near their hometown of Two Rivers, Wisconsin, to cut out the wooden pads. Aiden and his friends then painted them during his 5th birthday party. Several coats of clear coat later and they were ready to be donated to the hospital.

“This project is very near and dear to us. Danielle Schmidt, Bobbi Davig, Mary Elizabeth Nelis and all the rest of the infusion staff have been trying to make this a reality for years,” said Katie Sielski, RN, BSN. “It is hard for kids to be in the hospital and it can be scary at times. They deserve to have a little fun while being here. The smile on their faces when they get to use a lily pad is priceless.”

Support from people like Aiden and Allan Sr. helps make Children’s Wisconsin an environment created for kids, not adults.

So many of the unique support services, programs and activities at Children’s Wisconsin that let kids be kids, even during extended hospital stays, are made possible thanks to our generous community. Support from friends like you makes a difference for kids and families every single day. Give a gift today to support indispensable resources that help kids like Aiden.

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