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Family Matters - Winter 2008

My Line is Just Fine

Don’t touch. Those two words rarely make a lasting impression on any toddler, which is why many young cancer patients at M. D. Anderson tug at their central lines causing them to come out.

To remedy the issue, Holly Green, a surgical physician assistant from the Children’s Cancer Hospital at M. D. Anderson, discovered a unique way to use a common infant outfit to protect patients from pulling out their central lines.

Central lines make it easier for patients to receive chemotherapy over time. Each time a central line comes out, a pediatric patient must go through additional surgery to have the line replaced, costing thousands of dollars. With each new line or port, obtaining access to the veins becomes more difficult for surgeons, and patients are left with multiple external scars and scarring of the veins.

“I came up with the idea after a young patient pulled out his central line seven times in one year,” says Green, who has been a physician assistant for 20 years. “Any time a two-year-old has to go into surgery, even if it’s a minor procedure, it’s stressful on the entire family.”

With her experience sewing, Green was able to create a piece of clothing that would keep toddlers’ hands from reaching their central line. With close to 100 infants and toddlers a year who come to M. D. Anderson, having the onesie is especially useful.   Volunteers from Green’s church have sewn a special opening in the back of more than 200 onesies. The hole allows the central line to wrap around and exit at the patient’s back, out of the toddler’s reach. The special onesie comes in different sizes, fitting patients six months to four years old.

Funding to produce the onesies was provided through a safety grant that Green received from the Physician Assistant Foundation.

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