Thanks to Labor and Delivery nurse Denise Giller, RN, and many of her generous colleagues, each baby born at the Brigham in February will receive a knit red hat in honor of American Heart Month.

Kathryn and Tom Flinn’s newborn daughter, Reese, was the first baby this year to be gifted one of the approximately 500 hats that Giller and colleagues knitted or crocheted for their tiny patients. The total number of hats correlates to the estimated number of infants delivered at the Brigham each month.

“This is a wonderful gift, and we feel fortunate we could be here to learn more about this great cause,” Kathryn said. “This is our third baby born at the Brigham, so to be able to take home a hat that is made by staff is special and means a lot to us.”

The project is part of the national Little Hats, Big Hearts program, led by the American Heart Association (AHA) in connection with the Children’s Heart Foundation to raise awareness of heart disease and congenital heart defects. Volunteers knit and crochet red hats for babies born in February; the AHA then cleans, packages and delivers the hats to participating hospitals for distribution to patients and their families.

This was the second year the Brigham participated in the initiative, which Giller spearheaded. She said seeing the collection box fill up in the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women and Newborns (CWN) filled her heart with joy.
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“To have the support from my colleagues, as well as my family and friends and other generous volunteers, means everything to me,” Giller said. “I am proud to work with so many dedicated professionals and am thrilled we could be part of the project together once again.”

She added that an especially gratifying part of the project has been seeing the enthusiasm of its participants.

Colleagues would stop her in the hallway at work and update her on their knitting progress.

Giller even taught two nurses how to knit so that they could donate red hats, too: “It was an amazing team effort, and I am grateful for every single hat that was made.”

Giller’s colleague and friend, Nicole Baker, RN, also a Labor and Delivery nurse at the Brigham, has been participating in the project with Giller for the past two years. Baker knits the red hats in memory of her grandfather who passed away from heart disease.

“Each red hat, for me, is a celebration of life: a new baby, a person living with heart disease or a loved one who has passed away, and it is a reminder to know and be aware of the risk of heart disease,” Baker said.

Christopher Camire, senior communications director at the AHA, stopped by the Brigham recently with a few of his colleagues to meet Giller and thank her for her contributions to the project. He said the fact that she and her colleagues came together to produce 500 hats shows how dedicated the Brigham community is to raising awareness of congenital heart defects.

“We’re incredibly grateful to them and everyone at the Brigham for participating in Little Hats, Big Hearts and helping people live longer, healthier lives,” Camire said.

Also among the recipients this month were newborn twin brothers, Lucas and Owen Cushman. Their parents, Adam and Colleen, were elated to put the hats on their sons for the first time and thanked all the staff who donated their time: “These hats were homemade with love,” Colleen said.

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