By Paula Ebben

DUXBURY (CBS) — Children’s clothing designer Kate Bowen re-invented the basic hospital “Johnny” for infants. It’s a movement born out of the most challenging experiences of her life.

“I was like – this is ridiculous. Why aren’t there better products available for all babies in the hospital?” said Kate.

Kate was 36 weeks pregnant when doctors discovered that her baby’s heart was racing at over 300 beats per minute. They needed to deliver that night.

Her fourth child, Georgia Claire, was born in cardiac arrest.

“When she came out of the womb,” Kate recalled, “she looked gray.”

Physicians spent 25 minutes performing CPR on little Georgia, and then the family was rushed to Boston Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Christina VanderPluym said,  “she was so sick that we weren’t even sure if she would survive a transplant.”

Tearing up, Kate remembered: “They never gave up on Georgia, they saw something in her right away, and they pulled every resource they had and gave her a chance at life.”

Kate Bowen with her daughter Georgia Claire (WBZ-TV)

Georgia spent the next six months living in the hospital hooked up to wires, tubes, and lines keeping her alive. “I thought about it the whole time,” Kate said, “because I was trying to find ways to make Georgia comfortable.”

After months of cutting holes in the sides of baby onesies to accommodate the medical equipment keeping Georgia alive – IV’s, feeding tubes, and a Berlin heart – Kate took her knowledge of design and created a brand new hospital gown. Named after her daughter, she calls it the “Georgie.” The special onesie doesn’t need to be removed for Doctors to check on their littlest patients. It’s made of soft yet strong bamboo fabric that can contain wires, and most important – no metal snaps so it’s MRI and X-ray compatible.

Kate remembers how it felt to see her baby with an arm sticking out of a t-shirt, the shredded onesies she brought to the hospital, and her need to swaddle and comfort her newborn. “It was difficult to dress her while she was in the hospital and we wanted her to be as comfortable as possible while she fought for her life every day,” she said.

Kate Bowen re-invented the basic hospital “Johnny” for infants. (WBZ-TV)

Nurses at Children’s took notice once she sent them her design for the “Georgie,” and so did Dr. VanderPluym. The garment is now part of a clinical trial underway at Boston Children’s, and thanks to social media, it’s getting attention across the country from people who have asked Kate how they can order them.

“What has been really remarkable,” Kate says “is I’ve had nurses not only from Children’s, but from across the country reach out and say that they would love to have the ‘Georgie’ at their hospital.”

“I think the difference in this innovation.” Says Dr. VanderPluym “is really how we can improve the life of the child, not just keep them alive.”

Georgia is now at home growing alongside her sisters and brother after she received a heart transplant.

As for the “Georgie,” Nordstrom has already placed an order to put it in stores, and Boston Children’s Hospital hopes to complete the clinical trial soon – and then start rolling it out to hospitals nationwide.

Paula Ebben


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