Carrington College donates several heart-shaped pillows to Phoenix Children's Hospital

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Students at Carrington College are making something special for kids with congenital heart defects at Phoenix Children's Hospital -- handcrafted pillows in the shape of a heart.

Valerie Wilkinson, medical assisting program director at Carrington, had a child with congenital heart defects, and she learned about just how painful it is for these children to cough, or even take deep breaths after surgery. Pushing these pillows onto their chest can actually help with their pain and stabilize the sternum.

"Heart disease runs in my family, [so this] his close to home when we started this here," Wilkinson said.

It's officially been 10 years since Carrington College started this program for children with congenital heart defects. The hearts are all different sizes, made for kids of all ages.

Wilkinson said that this year, the team wanted to branch out and make pillows for people who can sometimes be forgotten about.

"This year, we focused on bigger pillows for our teenage group," Wilkinson said. "[An] age group that's forgotten about when we think about pediatrics."

The pillows are cut, stuffed, and stitched by the students, staff, and faculty at Carrington. Michelle Brooker, a student, said paying it forward is very rewarding.

"I just like to do it [and I] like to sow," Brooker said. "[I] enjoy the time and giving back to the kids." Brooker said. Brooker, with the help of her mom, went above and beyond, sewing 700 of these pillows.

"I just hope they enjoy them and they get to see all of the different designs," she said.

Carrington College started out with around 200 pillows and now, 10 years later, they're delivering more than 1,400 to Phoenix Children's Hospital.

Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect in the US, affecting one in 100 births, which is around 40,000 babies every year.