"This new attached toy was now a drumstick, teething toy and something to tug on," Mike said. "When we asked the nurse how to secure the lines and caps the only suggestion they had was to use a sock or tape."
When Saoirse developed a bad rash from the medical tape, her mother knew they needed a better option. Kezia loved to sew -- winter hats, diaper bags, you name it -- but her projects had fallen to the wayside with the family's hospital schedule. One night Kezia went home and dug out her sewing machine, grabbed some cotton knit fabric and created a sleeve that would hopefully secure Saoirse's line comfortably.
It worked. The wrap held Saoirse's line in place without letting it dangle, causing any itchiness or pain. Saoirse went back to playing with her toys and ignored the PICC line. A few weeks later, when a doctor inserted a central chest line, Kezia replicated her efforts to create a chest wrap for the toddler.
The wraps became a hit in the hospital ward. Nurses loved that they could access Saoirse's lines easily without taking off a bunch of tape. Parents asked Kezia to create more wraps for their kids. Mike filed a provisional application for a patent on the popular product, then went back to caring for his wife and child.
"Kezia would have much rather designed and sewed something else besides the wraps," Mike said. "But she did what she had to do to help our child. It worked and we solved a problem."
Kezia's cancer went into remission in September 2011.
Saoirse passed away a few months later.
'I love my CareAline'
The Fitzgeralds took some time after Saoirse's death to grieve. But they knew they wanted to help other patients with the wraps Kezia had created. They spent most of 2012 finding a sewing contractor in Massachusetts and a fabric producer in California before launching CareAline Products, LLC.
They now offer the wraps on their website and on Amazon.com. Patients can purchase individual wraps; hospitals and treatment facilities can buy them in bulk. So far two hospital groups have purchased CareAline products for their patients, Mike said.
"Breaking into the medical product community is challenging," he said. "But with every challenge there seems to be an equal reward. ... While we still have a long way to go before we can call ourselves a success, we feel like we are headed in the right direction."
The Fitzgeralds are working on developing more products, Mike said, so that every patient with a catheter can be given a wrap to keep their line in line.
"We know how stressful it is when that line is first put in, and how much you have to learn to take care of it," he said. "We don't think that any patient should have to search for their own solution like we did."
The couple wishes they never saw the need to start this company, but they're glad they did. They know it's the best way to honor their daughter, and her courageous battle against cancer.
A little boy walked up to the Fitzgeralds' conference table in Cape Cod this summer and said, "I love my CareAline." It's still Mike's favorite "review."
"It made us feel like we had truly made a different in that little boy and his family's life."