tf-11_245x311When a parent is told that his or her child needs a feeding tube, it can be a very scary and overwhelming time for the entire family. That’s why two moms created Tubie Friends™, a non-profit organization focused on making the process a little less frightening.

What is a Tubie Friend™? Simply put, it’s a stuffed animal with a feeding tube and sometimes other medical equipment. They come in all varieties—from traditional bears to monkeys—and are outfitted with the type of medical device you or your loved one has. Tubie Friends™ are a friend, a comfort, a play therapy item, and a demonstration tool.  They can help families practice with tube feeding, as well as demonstrating to others without exposing their own bodies to share.

As much as possible, Tubie Friends™ tries to duplicate the child’s medical interventions in the animal by placing a similar feeding tube, as well as additional medical interventions such as central IV lines, tracheostomy tubes or oxygen cannulas if available. Additionally, each animal comes with a parent letter providing information and listing support groups for feeding tubes.

Tubie Friends™ were initially intended for individuals developmentally under the age of 18 with medical devices on their bodies. Those who match this description can request a Tubie Friend™, which are provided by donation.  Tubie Friends™ does have a suggested donation which are for shipping/handling, if a family is able to contribute in such a way.

As they’ve grown, the organization has come to realize that many others, such as adults, schools, siblings, caregivers and doctors, find value in Tubie Friends™.  To meet this need, they have started a fundraising option that allows anyone to own a Tubie Friend™! To learn about the different ways to purchase a Tubie Friend™, click here or send a message through email or Facebook!

Tubie Friends™ is administered by two individuals with close connections to the feeding tube community. The founder and director’s child, the inspiration for Tubie Friends™, has been tube fed for more than 8 years. Tubie Friends™ Surgeons are volunteers with a connection to tube feeding who donate their time and resources to lovingly create and ship Tubie Friends™ all over the world.

Please be advised, many of those working to keep the organization running are dealing with their own medically-complex loved ones. For this reason, delivery may be unpredictable as their hard-working team receives many requests. Typically, requests are fulfilled within 3 to 6 weeks. That said, we know it’ll be worth the wait!

Want to show your support? Consider a monetary donation, supply donation or order a Tubie Friends™ t-shirts . The proceeds go directly to helping children receive their own Tubie Friend. Tubie Friends™ is part of a nonprofit 501(c)(3) group called the Holiday Treasure Chest Charity Foundation and donation receipts are available for tax purposes.

Do you have a Tubie Friend™? Share with us on our Facebook page!