Tiniest patients inspire nurse’s creativity

Karen Thaxton, RN, is a 25-year veteran of the Newborn Critical Care Center and the artist behind Kids Cards’ wildly popular Baby Prints collection. How did she get her start making art from the hand- and footprints of the unit’s newborns? The story starts with reindeer and turkeys.

Karen Thaxton uses her creativity to make art out of baby footprints and handprints.For 25 years, Karen Thaxton, RN, has spent her nights working in the Newborn Critical Care Center (NCCC) at N.C. Children’s Hospital. Karen’s primary job is taking care of the premature and sick newborns that come to the NCCC, but several years ago, she expanded her duties and began making art using the footprints and handprints of the tiny babies in the unit.

During the holidays, Karen and the NCCC families made reindeer and turkeys out of the babies’ handprints and footprints. Then an idea struck. A friend suggested that she design and submit a holiday card to the Kids Cards collection. The design, Dancing Reindeer, was a hit, and Karen has been designing Kids Cards ever since.

The handprints and footprints featured in the card designs are all actual size. Initially, documenting the prints was a way to capture the legacy of each newborn’s journey in the NCCC. Today, using the prints in greeting cards helps raise awareness for the Children's Hospital's youngest patients, while serving as a reminder that, sometimes, the greatest joy comes in the tiniest packages.

Since the initial Dancing Reindeer card, Karen has expanded her creativity, using tiny handprints as the blossoms of a flower or the wings of an angel, and baby footprints as the body of a penguin or the branches of a wreath.

“Karen’s creations use the simplest of starting points, a hand- or footprint, to illustrate the treasures around us, and offer a way to celebrate the season or brighten someone’s day,” says Linda Bryant-Hampton, MSN, RN, CPN, a friend and colleague of Karen’s.

We invite you to peruse the Kids Cards Baby Prints collection this holiday season. All proceeds benefit N.C. Children’s Hospital.

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