Having worked as a community educator at CHOC for 15 years, Amy Frias knows that all CHOC employees pour their hearts into their work, and would do anything they could to help a child or comfort a family.
Last spring, she saw a post on social media about a group of women dedicated to transforming donated wedding dresses into bereavement gowns for babies who are born prematurely and pass away. Amy knew immediately that she’d found the perfect use for the beautiful wedding dress she’d worn a decade ago and had been sitting in storage ever since.
“That dress was beautiful, and it was worn during very happy times,” Amy says. “It’s my hope that the angel gowns created from it will bring a little bit of comfort and perhaps even peace to families in need.”
The volunteer seamstresses at Angel Gown Project of California were able to create more than a dozen angel gowns from Amy’s wedding dress. Each angel gown takes approximately two hours to create.
The angel gowns were recently delivered to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at CHOC. As a community educator, Amy has worked with a variety of families across many units in the hospital, but she’s always had a special place in her heart for NICU patients and their families.
“I often have the privilege of working with NICU families when they’re getting ready to leave the hospital and finally take their baby home, and we teach them things like car seat safety and CPR,” Amy says. “But I know that sometimes despite having the very best care, not all babies make it home.”
Dana Sperling, a social worker in CHOC’s NICU, sees this heartbreak firsthand.
“Neonatologists and specially trained nurses in the NICU do everything in their power and use the most advanced technology available to care for premature infants, but unfortunately, the reality is that not all babies make it home,” Dana says. “Anything we can do to help our families make this heartbreaking experience more cherished, we will. We’ll do whatever we can to help them.”
Bereavement gowns are often the last thing on a parent’s mind when they’re faced with immense grief over the loss of a child and they are unable to focus on all the details that must be tended to.
“Some of these parents have never had the chance to dress their babies themselves due to their level of illness. Parents are so appreciative of these gowns and are quick to notice the love and energy that went into making them,” Dana says. “We are helping parents make memories at a very sacred time and it is important to remember that what we do at CHOC to save a life is just as important as what we do when a life cannot be saved.”
Learn more about the Angel Gown Project of California.
CHOC Hospital was named one of the nation’s best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in its 2020-21 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings and ranked in the neonatology specialty.