Sisters make colourful hospital gowns for children in the US and Africa

It was a family drama that inspired a young American girl, Guiliana Demma, to bring some cheer to children fighting cancer.

In 2017, her one-year-old cousin, Giada, was hospitalised for treatment of brain cancer, and Guiliana remembers seeing her lying in the hospital bed, her body swimming in a drab green hospital gown.

“I noticed that the gown was boring, dull colours, and boring patterns. And it wasn’t really nice,” she says.

The scene was so sad that her family had a seamstress make a special Disney princess gown for little Giada.

It was a thought that came back to Giuliana several years later. 

She had developed an interest in sewing and told her mother she wanted to make cheerful gowns for other children with life-threatening illnesses.

The 13-year-old began making her original brightly coloured hospital gowns for them.

“There’s always something small you can do to make a difference. It doesn’t have to be anything big, it can just be something, really simple,” she says.

Guiliana is helped by her 11-year-old sister, Audrina whose speciality is sewing small pillows for the young patients.

These are sent with boxes of markers so that the recipients can colour them as they like while they are in hospital.

“I feel great. I love when I can help out because I like seeing the smile on the kid’s faces, even though they’re going through such a hard time,” says Audrina.

A women’s group at a nearby housing development and a church youth group help out with about 40 volunteers to cut fabric for the girls. The basement of their New Jersey home has been taken over by sewing operations.

To date, the two sisters have sewn and donated over 1,800 gowns to hospitalised children across the US and in Uganda, with three other African nations set to get them soon.

The young patients are not charged for one Guiliana’s gowns, which are paid for by donations of both money and material.

Some of the recipients write back to thank the girls for the gowns and pillows. Giuliana says she loves hearing back from them.

She hopes to become a cancer surgeon someday.