Amarillo group creates octopus therapy tools for preemies at local hospitals

Octopus for a Preemie - US is providing much needed therapy tools for premature babies. (ABC 7 Amarillo)

With every stitch that goes into an "octo", the hope is that there is one less obstacle for a premature baby to go through.

"We provide these therapy tools, these little "octos", that help the infant in the NICU setting," Elizabeth Waters, organizer of Octopus for a Preemie-US, said.

The world-wide organization crochets the octopus shaped items for premature babies. Waters said the United States chapter has around 9,000 members working in 47 states as well as Air Force bases in Germany.

These little "octos" are making a big difference around the world.

"It calms them," Waters said. "It stimulates holding onto the umbilical cord in the womb, which is where most of them should still be. When they get to play with these, the nurses have observed that it helps them with their respiration. Their oxygen levels go up. Their heart rate steadies out. It gives them something to do with their hands. A lot of these babies are hooked up to so many different cords all the time."

Right now the Amarillo group is working to get 300 requested "octos" to Amarillo's BSA Hospital this year. Waters said she was inspired by her own sister who was premature as well as a friend's baby she visited while being cared for at BSA in the early stages of life.

"The first octopus I made was for her and at that point I realized this is something I can do for all of these babies in the community," Waters said.

Sharron Taylor was among the volunteers at Sunday's gathering to crochet "octos." She said she was there to honor her daughter who was born premature.

"She didn't come home for two months," Taylor said. "I had her for 26 years. I lost her 14 years ago. I miss her but something like this really touches my heart to be able to help others deal with a situation like that."

As a parent of a premature baby, Taylor knows the benefits this simple tool will bring.

"This is helping the babies but it's also going to help the parents to deal with those emotions," Taylor said. "There's a lot of emotions that go with a situation like this and it will help. The mom can hold it so that her smell will be on there and the baby can learn her smell and they can bond that way. There are lots of benefits."

Waters hopes to help even more hospitals and babies in the area, so she is asking for the crafting community to join them. However, you don't need to know how to crochet.

Waters said she can teach you how to crochet the "octos" or you may provide donations or wash the "octos" before they are sent to the hospitals.

For more information about Octopus for a Preemie, visit their Facebook page HERE or join the Facebook group HERE.

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