We wanted to share with you an article from the
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on VA Pittsburgh HealthCare Systems.
This is about a Friend of ours that organized a special fundraiser.
Jim Evans organized a fundraiser to purchase hundreds of therapeutic, heart-shaped pillows for VA Pittsburgh’s heart surgery patients.
By Liz Zemba Thursday,
August 11, 2016
Jim Evans found a new passion for helping his fellow Veterans while he was recovering from open heart surgery at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.
“I have never been so excited about doing anything in my life,” said Evans, 72, who undertook a “Huggable Pillows” fundraiser following his surgery in January. “I have goosebumps.”
Evans raised nearly $7,000 to purchase 400 heart-shaped pillows to be distributed free of charge to Veterans who undergo heart surgery at the health care system’s University Drive campus. VA Pittsburgh performs upwards of 200 heart surgeries annually.
“Anybody who’s ever had open heart surgery will tell you they don’t know how you can do without a pillow to hug,” Evans said.
Following heart surgery, patients are directed to hold a rolled blanket or small pillow against their chests to ease discomfort when coughing or sneezing. The practice helps prevent post-operative complications, said Tim Miller, a physician’s assistant who helped care for Evans.
Evans’ red, heart-shaped pillows feature educational heart diagrams on one side and the message “Huggable Pillows Donated by Veterans & Friends” on the other. They include permanent markers for teaching purposes and autographs.
Miller said the donated, heart-shaped pillows will be given to patients in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit and stay with each patient through discharge. The colorful pillows will complement disposable, therapeutic “cough pillows” VA Pittsburgh is now carrying for surgery patients.
“Here’s something we can do to directly affect the life of a Veteran who has to have open heart surgery.” Jim Evans
Evans, a former Air Force cryptographic technician who served stateside from 1963 to 1967, sought care at VA Pittsburgh when he experienced chest pressure while golfing.
“On the last few holes, I was really struggling, walking,” Evans said. “It was more pressure, not so much pain. Like heartburn.” Evans’ VA cardiologists diagnosed him with severe aortic stenosis—a narrowing of the aortic valve opening—and recommended surgery to replace the valve. Describing the care he received at VA Pittsburgh as “excellent,” Evans said he undertook the heart-pillow campaign to benefit other Veterans who have the same surgery. With the help of American Legion Post 980 in Plum, Evans said he solicited donations via email and through visits to other posts and Veterans groups. In April, Post 980 sponsored a spaghetti-dinner fundraiser that netted $2,300 for the campaign, he said. Evans said numerous groups and individuals have donated because they care about Veterans. “This is people saying, hey, here’s something we can do to directly affect the life of a Veteran who has to have open heart surgery,” Evans said. “This is a way for people to help Veterans, where they know where their money is going.” The heart-shaped pillows “will make a difference for morale and mental well-being,” said Jim Manganaro, another physician’s assistant who works with cardiac patients. “It’s nice to see Veterans looking out for each other,” Manganaro said.