• DeAnna Killian, right, stands with some of the items she collected to donate to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. Standing with Killian is Cook Community Program Coordinator Jillian Mitchell. BURLESON STAR/COURTESY PHOTO
  • DeAnna Killian sits with some of the items she donated to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. Killian’s son, Zachary, had heart surgery performed there in 1989 when he was an infant. BURLESON STAR/COURTESY PHOTO

Mother donates items to hospital

In May 1989, a newly renamed and reworked Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth opened its doors to its first patient, Zachary Killian.

He was a newborn with a heart defect.

To the family's relief, the hospital was able to successfully treat the condition. His mother, DeAnna Killian, however, still remembers the distress she and her family underwent then.

So, Burleson resident Killian set out to help other children enduring similar situations.

"I've been there, I've been a parent, I've had a kid there, I know what it's like," Killian said. "I can only imagine being the baby or the little kid."

She recently donated about 2,000 items to Cook Children's Medical Center as part of its 2018 Wish List donation program.

Wish List has items that donors can provide for immediate need and assistance to the hospital's patients and their families, which might "even bring a smile," according to Cook Children's website.

"They have treatments and its painful. And they're nervous going into it, they're nervous coming out. They are scared," Killian said. "Things like this [Wish List] is a way to change what they are thinking about. It's a way of getting their minds off of what's going on. And just for a little while, let them be a normal little kid."

Killian, in turn, had requested friends and family donate items in lieu of birthday presents.

From school supplies, toys, clothes to coloring books for adults and makeups for teenagers -- some she bought herself, while some were gifted to her for the purpose of donation.

In one instance, Killian spent about $400 at a local dollar store buying items from the list.

"There was a ton of stuff that I ended up taking up there," Killian said. "I went scouring just to make the dollar go as far as possible."

Every year, Cook Children’s Medical Center treats thousands of children in its 530,000 square-foot facility. In 2017, the medical institution had a total 11,209 outpatient encounters in just the hematology and oncology center, according to its annual report.

The Wish List program does not accept any used items as donations, due to the danger of children being exposed to deadly germs. And latex balloons, candy and any other food items are also not allowed.

Some items currently deemed of having the greatest need include - playing cards, action figures, toothpaste, portable DVD players, childern’s pants, canvas boards and headphones among a wide variety of other things.

Killian has already started collecting items to donate during her next birthday. She said she is stacking up the items whenever she can and is confident next year's giving will exceed this year's amount.

"You get what you give," Killian said. "The more you give, the more you're going to get back in return. Not that you except that, or I expect that, but that's how the world is. It's about giving. It's about putting others first, before yourself."

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