Profile: Cushioning the blow for heart-surgery patients

Montreal Gazette

You could call Barbara Brock someone with a lot of heart.

The longtime Royal Victoria Hospital volunteer and auxiliary member was working on the wards at the Pine Ave. hospital 15 years back when she noticed that patients who had undergone open-heart surgery were using bunched-up towels against their chests as they did physiotherapy exercises to help with their recovery.

Volunteers would sometimes bring in stuffed animals for them, but the patients, mainly men, did not warm to the furry creatures. “I went home and thought about it,” Brock recalled, “and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if each of them got a red heart-shaped pillow?’ ”

And so the Helping Heart Pillow Project was born.

“I called someone I knew and said I wanted to start a heart pillow project — and needed somebody who makes pillows.”

The friend put her in touch with a manufacturer of dog beds, who…

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