Heart Pillows for Heart Patients – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health –

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients undergoing heart surgery at Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) are being gifted ‘heart pillows’ to bring smiles to their faces and help them in their recovery.

The beautiful handmade cushion covers feature indigenous designs and are helpful for patients to hold on to when they cough, sit up, get out of bed, and to protect their wound following surgery.

Each year, about 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients undergo cardiac surgery at FMC – including bypass or valve replacement surgeries.

FMC performs about 30 per cent of heart surgery for Australia’s indigenous population, with many patients travelling from the Northern Territory, including as far north as the Tiwi Islands. A large number of these patients are aged only in their 20s and 30s, and require heart surgery for replacement valves due to Rheumatic Heart Disease.

FMC Cardiac Surgery Aboriginal Health Practitioners Jaiden Graham and Mahalia Milera (pictured) said the pillows had been well received and helped make patients feel more comfortable.

“They really help in patients’ recovery, to help make sure they heal properly and don’t overstretch,” Jaiden said.

“When we give them to patients it really brightens them up – they take it home with them too and it tells a story of what they’ve been through and reminds them of their journey.”

The aboriginal artwork cushion covers have been funded by Flinders Foundation, and lovingly made by Ali Lam, a friend of Flinders Medical Centre’s Aboriginal Liaison Unit - Karpa Ngarrattendi.

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