Christmas and gifts come early for UI Children's Hospital patien - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Christmas and gifts come early for UI Children's Hospital patients

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Imagine being stuck in the hospital for the holidays. Now imagine being a child. It's a reality all too many are facing.

On Friday, hospital staff at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital went room to room delivering bundles of gifts to each of the pediatric patients.

"It's a big deal to kind of provide some normalcy and really make sure the kids are able to celebrate the holiday just as if they were home," Scott Turner, executive director of University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, said.

The sounds of ripping wrapping paper and the smiles on the kids faces filled the hospital rooms with the sound of the holidays. 

"To get to see the kids emotions -- it's pretty powerful stuff," Turner said.

Many of the families behind each door on the ninth floor know what it's like to spend the holidays away from home and instead in a hospital wing. They also know how hard it can get.

"It's rough, but we're making the best out of it. We can have Christmas anywhere, doesn't matter where you are. It just matters that you're with family," Victoria Borges said.

Borges's oldest daughter Gabriela is in the hospital for her second hip surgery this year. She was born with dislocated hips. Gabriela is the oldest of four girls. The family is from Indianola. 

"We loaded up the van and all six of us came down here," Borges said.

The children's hospital staff knows that it's not only hard on parents and the patients but the siblings who also stay by their sides. 

"[They were] excited, very grateful. Of course, every kid is always worried about when are we going to open up presents, are we going to get to open presents, what are we going to do? So it just made them all feel like Christmas was here and a little bit of normalcy," she said.

All of the gifts given to the children came from community donations. During a child's stay, Child Life Specialists get to know them. They know their personalities and their likes which helps them pick out which gifts to give to each of them. Staff from the hospital then helped to individually wrap each gift before they were handed out.

Gifts donated around the holidays help year round. Some will be given to patients on their birthdays while others will be gifts to celebrate medical milestones.

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