Boys in hospital love LEGOs but can’t see each other – janitor helps them develop a friendship

When it comes to illness, the sad fact of the matter is that it can affect anyone, anywhere. While many of us take just about everything in life for granted at times, there are millions of people stuck in a hospital wishing they could just experience a normal life. Thankfully, most hospitals have angels walking around disguised as employees, and this janitor is definitely one of them.

Hospital staff work round the clock to keep patients as healthy and comfortable as possible, and a lot of times that includes bringing them a small shred of hope or joy to get them through their day.

This isn’t just true of doctors and nurses but, for Ki-Jana Upshaw, it’s the duty of the hospital janitor as well.

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A janitor may not be the first person that comes to mind when you think of heroes for sick children. Upshaw, however, is proving that no matter your profession, you can always be someone’s hero.

The janitor works for Ohio’s Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. His normal day involves cleaning up all 82 patient rooms in the Bone Marrow Transplant unit, including changing their bed linens. As one would expect, he has plenty of interaction with the patients there, and the janitor goes out of his way to get to know each child he finds occupying one of the beds.

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Recently Upshaw met Cohen Bramlee, a 7-year-old patient occupying one of the beds in his unit. As the janitor got to know the young boy, one thing became very obvious; Cohen loves Legos.

Each time he met with the boy, it seemed he had some new creation he’d made with the tiny, bright bricks. He loved showing off his inventions to Upshaw. That’s what stuck in his mind when he met Keagan Atkins.

Keagan was another young patient who’s room happened to neighbor Cohen’s.

It turns out the little boy is also a huge fan of Legos. Almost instantly, Upshaw thought of Cohen’s love for the iconic children’s toys and he knew that they would be instant friends. Unfortunately, though, the boys were constantly stuck in their rooms, and so they never had the chance to meet each other.

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The kindhearted janitor determined that he was going to help the two boys become friends.

Due to the isolation requirements of the transplant unit, the boys weren’t allowed to enter each other’s rooms. That’s when Upshaw decided he’d be their go-between. He would visit each one and tell them about the other and what Lego project they were working on.

Thankfully, there was a window that connected the boys’ rooms, so the janitor would help them show off their Lego creations to each other through it.

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Every ounce of joy and normalcy is precious when you’re living life in hospital isolation. There’s no question that what this janitor did for them gave them comfort and much-needed distraction during such a difficult time in their lives. The newfound friendship between the boys did untold wonders for them as they each recovered from their illnesses.

Both the boys eagerly awaited their chance to pass messages and exchange Lego ideas with each other via the janitor. It was a blessing that deeply touched Cohen’s mom, too.

It was kind of like a daily report on what the other child was building, and so he kind of enjoyed getting to hear about what someone else had in common with him while he was here, and just getting to talk to KJ, because, you know, our world is pretty small right now. We were in that room, and Cohen was in isolation, he couldn’t leave, and it was just a bright spot in the day when [KJ] would come in and just sit there and chat with Cohen for a second,” she explains in the video at the end of this article.

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After a while, Keagan was well enough to be sent home, but there was one more blessing that would happen before he left.

Cohen’s blood counts rose enough that he could finally meet his buddy on the other side of the wall, so long as he donned a mask. Upshaw set up a meeting between the boys outside their hospital room doors. They were ecstatic to meet each other, and Cohen even had a parting gift for his new friend Keagan; a brand new Lego set to keep him busy at home!

What this janitor did for these two little boys goes far beyond the transplant unit.

The boys’ mothers are both deeply appreciative of what Upshaw did for their kids, and they are excited to set up playdates between them as soon as Cohen is released from the hospital. The janitor did more than just offer some friendly companionship. He gave them the gift of friendship, which may just last them a lifetime.

To learn more about the touching friendship between Upshaw and his two brave little friends, watch the video below.

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Source: Cincinnati Children’s