Superheroes visit Stead Children’s Hospital

Superheroes visited Stead Children’s Hospital to interact with children and to donate blood.

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Superheroes visit Stead Children’s Hospital

The Stead Family Children's Hospital is seen on on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

The Stead Family Children's Hospital is seen on on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Lily Smith

The Stead Family Children's Hospital is seen on on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Lily Smith

Lily Smith

The Stead Family Children's Hospital is seen on on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Jordan Prochnow, [email protected]

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Who visited UIHC this past weekend? Was it a bird? Was it a plane? No. It was Superman and several of his superhero friends.

On Oct. 20, several costumed characters visited patients at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital to give children a chance to interact with their favorite superheroes. Around 10 superheroes were present, including Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Batman, to spread joy and spend time with the kids.

“Whenever we have special visitors, like the characters, it adds a fun, exciting element for the kids,” Senior Child Life Specialist Kathy Whiteside said. “So often, the kids are in the hospital and they don’t get the opportunity to do the fun things that they’d do at school or at home. They get really excited when we have special visitors, especially superheroes.”

Several of the heroes have been coming to the hospital for years to visit the kids. Three of the visitors, Superman, Spider-man, and Wolverine, gave blood donations before visiting with the kids to show that anyone can donate blood and help save lives, not just superheroes.

More than 450 patients are in need of blood transfusions each week, and each pint of blood donated can potentially help numerous patients, according to the Red Cross website.

The event was assisted by graduate students in the UI Child Life Program, whose goal is to meet emotional and developmentae needs of hospital patients and help connect with the children by orchestrating various crafts. Patients could make their own capes and bracelets to show that the biggest heroes of all are the children.

“I have loved seeing all the kids run after the superheroes, or just running with their capes on after making them, and they fly up a little bit,” student Liz Reynolds said. “One of the boys ran over to his dad, and it was almost as if it was flying. They’re just really having fun and smiling a lot.”

Throughout the event, the joy experienced by patients and their families was evident. Andrea Watters, whose son Jackson just completed a stay at the hospital, appreciates the opportunity for the kids to see the characters and to make positive memories during their time at the hospital.

“I think [having the characters here] is really nice,” Watters said. “It’s something that he’ll remember as a good thing, instead of some of the not-so-pleasant things of our visit.”

Though spending time in a hospital is not desirable for children, the Children’s Hospital and UIHC manage to improve patient experience and to encourage spirits near Halloween. Because both medical professionals and Iowans come together to brighten the kids’ days, the effects are undoubtedly felt around the hospital.

“We are really lucky in that we have a lot of community support,” Whiteside said. “We have a lot of special visitors through our Child Life Program who come and donate their time to make things better for the kids, and we really appreciate it.”

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