Finding Comfort in Knitted Blankets

Three years ago, Sharon Jones began knitting as a way to ease the pain she felt after losing her 17-year-old son Andrew in a car crash in 2007. “When you lose a child, it doesn’t go away,” says Ms. Jones, a Manager of Grants and Contracts in The Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Department of Pediatrics. “The knitting keeps me thinking about something else.”

The knowledge that Andrew was an organ donor, who helped many recipients, provides solace, as well. So when Ms. Jones recently learned about “Sean’s Gift,” a national initiative to give handmade blankets to the families of deceased organ donors, she decided to turn the lunchtime knitting club she had started at Mount Sinai a year-and-a-half ago into a similar initiative here.

The club, which meets three or four times a week at 1 pm in Levy Library in Annenberg, is an informal gathering of knitters who come when they can squeeze in a free hour at lunchtime. On any given day, Ms. Jones says, three or four knitters show up.

So far, the group has donated several knitted blankets to the Recanati/Miller Transplantation Institute that were made by friends outside Mount Sinai. But plans are under way to begin work on the first knitted patchwork blanket that will be given to the family of an organ donor at Mount Sinai. The blankets will provide families with warm memories of their loved ones.

Sean’s Gift was started by Long Island mother Marie LaPersonerie, whose 24-year-old son Sean, an Iraq war veteran, was struck by a car while crossing the street near his home on New Year’s Eve in 2011. When Mrs. LaPersonerie’s friend gave her a blanket to wrap Sean in before donating his organs, she became inspired to do the same for other families.

Ms. Jones says the Mount Sinai effort helps comfort her, as well. Though initially uncertain about the idea of organ donation, she had agreed to it when asked in 2007. Ms. Jones remembers that when she came home from the hospital she found a blank organ donor card in Andrew’s wallet, which suggested to her that donation is what he would have wanted.

“Andrew was born at Mount Sinai so I’m trying to do my part to continue his story here, and to help other people,” she says.

This article was first published in Inside Mount Sinai.

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