It’s been nearly three years since Port Richmond native Liam Garvey, 9, went to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children with an ailment that changed his and his family’s lives.
“He had been sick for some time and ended up having a seizure, which he never had before,” said his mom, Kristen Garvey. “After all the tests they did, they determined the viruses he had caused the inflammation of the brain, which is encephalitis.”
Liam remained in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit from Feb. 29 until March 21, the day after his seventh birthday.
“So, his seventh birthday was in the hospital in the PICU and then the next day he was discharged to a rehabilitation center where we spent another six weeks,” Garvey said.
While Liam’s birthday may have not been what the family envisioned, staff went above and beyond to make him and the family feel at home during his stay, according to Garvey.
Aside from decorating his room and bringing him gifts, staff relied on donations to brighten the atmosphere, according to Garvey.
“When he was there, the nurses and child-life specialists tried to do what they could to make things more comfortable and make it a little less ‘sterile’ environment for the kids,” Garvey said. “Aside from toys and games, they would bring the kids fun pillowcases, pajamas and socks people had donated just to make them a little more comfortable.”
During Liam’s hospitalization, the Garvey family met another family in the PICU that transitioned to the same rehab hospital and became fast friends.
“I saw on Facebook they were accepting donations for blankets and stuffed animals for Oncology and PICU and thought that it was a great idea,” Garvey said. “I had been wanting to do something more and saw that and thought of the pajamas Liam got. He was still wearing them after we came home.”
Garvey reached out to one of her family’s favorite child-life specialists at St. Christopher’s and asked if she could spearhead a similar fundraiser for the hospital and got the OK.
“We were coming up on his dual anniversary, his birthday and the day he left the PICU, so we decided to combine it and make it a fundraiser for his birthday,” Garvey said. “So, instead of people getting him gifts, we asked them to donate pajamas.”
Three years later, the Garvey family is calling for the community to continue to support the fundraiser in hopes of providing the same comfort to kids going through experiences like Liam.
The family is accepting new pajamas with tags in any size from newborn through adult sizes and infant and toddler socks.
The deadline to donate is Liam’s birthday, March 20.
Funds can also be donated, with 100 percent of proceeds used to purchase new pajamas.
Garvey also created an Amazon wishlist for individuals to have pajamas shipped to her house.
The first year, the family collected a total of 125 pajamas through donations, and the number continues to grow each year, according to Garvey.
“It’s just something to give back,” she said. “It was hard enough dealing with a child who suddenly has brain damage and does not recover to the child he was previously. The nurses and child-life specialists did everything they could to try to make things comfortable not just for Liam, but for me as well. It always meant so much to me they did so much to make an unpleasant situation better for the kids and parents.” ••
The Garvey family will accept pajamas and sock donations until March 20. Donations can be purchased through www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/1HP0IMJVWT208 or by messaging Kris Garvey via Facebook.