Marvel-ous hospital gowns bring out the superhero in young patients

Anaiah Morales was standing close to the stove when a pot of chicken soup spilled, splattering her with scalding broth.

Anaiah, who’s 7, tried to be brave, but her grandmother, Consuela Garcia, of Glendale, cried.

“It’s OK, Nana,” Anaiah told her. “Don’t cry.”

Anaiah was admitted to the Arizona Burn Center, part of the Valleywise Health Medical Center, on July 13, with burns on her arm and leg. She faced surgery to put a skin graft over a burn that stretched four inches across the back of her right thigh.

Instead of a regular hospital gown, Anaiah chose from a selection that looked like superhero costumes: Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, Wakanda warriors, Spider-Man and Hulk.

Anaiah picked Spider-Man.

“Do I look pretty?” Anaiah asked.

“You look beautiful,” Garcia told her.

More importantly, the gown made Anaiah feel invincible. She struck a pose on her hospital bed, one fist raised in the air.

The 200 gowns were donated by the Starlight Children’s Foundation in Culver City, Calif., a nonprofit that gives video game systems, toys and movies to more than 800 children’s hospitals and health care facilities across the country.

Young patients put on the gowns, and Kyla Brown sees the change in attitude. The kids know these superheroes and tap into their powers to muster their own strength and courage.

Brown coordinates the hospital’s Child Life specialists, who help children and their families cope with illness and hospitalization.

Anaiah wore her Spider-Man gown to surgery and for three days after before Garcia could coax her out of it to launder. When it was clean, Anaiah put it back on.

She took the gown home when she was released and still wears it with a matching red headband.

Garcia changes the bandages on Anaiah’s burn every day. She has a follow-up appointment next week and hasn’t complained once.

“She’s brave anyway, but that gown made her braver,” Garcia said. 

Like a superhero.

Reach Karina Bland at [email protected] or 602-444-8614. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @KarinaBland.

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