Heart patient giving back through jewelry project

10:34 PM, Feb 26, 2011   |    comments
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KSDK -- A visit to the hospital can be overwhelming for a sick child. But thanks to another child's handi-work, young cardiac patients at St. Louis Children's Hospital always know that someone cares.

When this fiery, young red head sets her mind to something, there's nothing stopping her.

Julia Wynn, 9, has spent more time in the hospital than any kid should have to spend. She was born with a rare genetic disorder that attacks her heart. Julia underwent her first surgery at St. Louis Children's Hospital shortly after she was born. Renee Wynne is Julia's mother.

"She's very busy, she's sweet, she just never sits still, she's always doing something And a big heart, she does a lot for people," says Wynne.

Dr. Charles Huddleston is a Cardio-Thoracic surgeon and Julia's doctor.

"Very sick little girl and has undergone I think three operations now to reconstruct things to make it so her circulation is relatively normal," says Dr. Huddleston.

The disorder also causes severe deformities to Julia's hands and arms. So when she decided to make jewelry for kids in the hospital, Dr. Huddleston was amazed.

"These things require some manual dexterity to do and she's a bit hindered aspect too, because of the birth defect in her hand so that makes it even more remarkable that she's constructed these things to help the kids out," says Dr. Huddleston.

"She got one of those American Girl magazine's shortly after Christmas one year and there was a cute article in there about girl who made bracelets for Autism research to raise money, so Julia wanted to do something like that," says Renee Wynne.

Julia's Jewelry project was born. She'd craft bracelets for girls and zipper pulls for boy, each accompanied by a note of support.

"I hope they are happier and I hope they are not as worried and on my tag I want them to know that I've been through it and I'm okay and they'll be okay probably too," says Julia.

Her parents provided beads and supplies to get her started, donations from family, friends and community groups have kept the project going.

"I honestly thought that it would be something she would do for a few months," says Wynne. "And now it's been over a year and she sends the bracelets and the zipper pulls for the boys every month."

When Julia started to tire of the tedious work, her parents encouraged her to stick with it.

"We told her, give it a year, because she hadn't heard back from anybody, whether they liked the bracelets, I mean she always heard back from Dr. Huddleston's nurse, but she hadn't heard from any children there," says Wynne.

That's where 11 year old Emalee Compton comes in. The little girl from Dow, illinois was also born with a birth defect.

"I was going into St. Louis Children's Hospital to get one of those breathing tests and they were giving out these free bracelets and they had a message on it, with a name and an email address, and I went on my computer and emailed that email address and she wrote back," says Emalee.

In the days and months following their first correspondence, the girls have become fast friends.

"Well we know a lot about each other.. and well she doesn't ski, but I do," says Julia.

"I talk about my animals, I talk about how hard my math stuff is going," says Emalee.

"We send pictures of our families and our pets and she has dog and a cat, and the cat is really, really cute," says Julia.

"She's my very first pen pal," says Emalee.

Sometimes they even chat about the health problems that make them kindred spirits.

"It's kind of fun, because we can talk about it and we ask questions about it and everything," says Julia.

It appears Julia's jewelry project is paying it forward and then some. One little girl inspiring others, and another little girl returning the favor.

"I would call her one of my best friends forever," says Emalee.

Julia's bracelets have gone to hundreds of young patients. She continues to send more every few months. 


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