An Austin surgeon is helping families outside the exam room. Inspired by a former patient, Dr. Julie Sanchez of Dell Children’s Medical Center has designed special clothing to improve a child's level of comfort and safety after surgery.
It's called “Abilitee Adaptive Wear.” The line offers T-shirts, bodysuits, onesies, ostomies, all with easy access to insert catheters and cords, including several accessories like chewable jewelry for children who fidget and chew.
The company also provides adaptive blouses for women undergoing chemotherapy or recovering from surgery as well as bibs.
Dr. Sanchez says each item has a story behind it, the bib was made after one of her patients developed skin irritations on their chest as a result from drooling.
“What they have is an under-layer that is completely water-proof,” Co-Founder Elena Cortez-Neavel said. Cortez-Neavel helps Dr. Sanchez with day-to-day activities such as design, product concepts as well as running Abilitee’s website.
The design also works as a scarf for older patients or adults.
“We wanted to have something that a teenager could wear, so we picked plaids and fashionable colors,” Cortez-Neavel said.
Dr. Sanchez believes what happens after families leave the hospital is as important as when they enter.
"The fears of having the tube pulled out in the middle of the night, the catheters would get wrapped up, so the more I thought about it, the more I would talk to different parents,” Dr. Sanchez said.
Mother of seven, Natalie Bey recently had her 6-month-old daughter, Emma, undergo surgery last summer after she developed cysts on her bile ducts. Later, she also developed cystic fibrosis, a feeding tube and a Broviac catheter had to be inserted.
She says she tried looking for clothes that fit her needs for quite some time.
"Just one tiny thing that makes life just a little bit easier,” Bey said. "Don't even know...if she knows how thankful we are.”
The line launched last year, accessories and clothing range from $6 to $22, sizes are from newborn to adults.
Click here, to learn more about Abilitee Adaptive Wear.