LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Volunteers from Woodland Heights’ Senior Circle spent their afternoon making “smell blankets” for newborns admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) as part of the the 6th annual Luke’s Love event.
NICU specialists said the blankets help the newborns sense the scent of their parents and bond with them from a distance. The event started when Luke Ball’s parents used the same kind of blanket to connect with their son, Luke, who was born with complications and was in the NICU for about 14 days.
“It all started about 5 years ago when Luke was born. Leslie had some complications during pregnancy," said Kris Ball, Luke’s father. “Luke was life-flighted to Texas Women’s Hospital, and they sent home a small patch of fabric for me to sleep on while we were up there to take back for Luke to bond with me through his sense of smell."
Luke’s birth and the time he spent in NICU eventually inspired the Luke’s Love Foundation. Every year, the family and the Senior Circle make smell blankets for every child that stays in the Woodland Heights Hospital NICU.
“It’s a really neat idea for parents who are not capable of taking their babies home immediately after they’re born, or they have to stay in the hospital for health reasons,” said Ball. “You take a smell blanket home with you. You lay on it, take it back, and give it to your child and they can form a relationship with you through that sense of smell.”
The group created more than 300 blankets in 2018, and Ball said there were even more volunteers who took time to stop by and donate their time on Friday.
“We’re blessed with a lot of good family and friends, and Angelina County is a supportive, family-oriented community,” said Ball. “So, I think it’s great that there are this many people who are willing to come out on such a beautiful day and do something for such a great cause."
Luke’s Love Foundation raises money and blankets every year for babies in the NICU year round. You can make a donation by contacting Woodland Heights Medical Center.