Hospital Worker Connects Two Sick Kids With Legos (But Not, Like, Literally)

KJ playing with LEGOs

Ki-Jana “KJ” Upshaw works as a floor tech at the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where it’s common to see isolation patients. These patients are kept in isolation to prevent germs from either spreading to another child or the child becoming infected. While necessary in certain medical situations, isolation is extremely lonely.

KJ, who changes the beds in all 82 rooms on the floor, understands the challenges these patients face and when he saw Cohen Bramlee and Keagan Atkins playing separately with LEGOs, he knew he had to bring them together. But how, if both are confined to hospital isolation?

KJ thought about what he could do to help create a connection. He spoke to the boys about each other and their love of LEGOs and when he saw a potential friendship, he opened up the blinds in the boys’ rooms so they could see each other (and their LEGOs) from across the hall.

It worked, and KJ took it upon himself to facilitate the new friendship. He would send them messages with one another, most of them being about their LEGO creations.

“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,” said Cohen’s mother, Carrie Bramlee.

The story gets even better. When it came time for Keegan to be released from the hospital, Cohen was well enough to put on a mask and say hello and goodbye to his new friend. And—get ready for your heart to melt—Cohen presented Keegan with a LEGO set as a going away gift. This won’t be the last time the two friends see each other, however. Their moms are already planning a LEGO-fueled playdate when Cohen is cleared to go home.

Keegan and Cohen meeting

“Everyone who enters that room is part of our journey and our world, and so when you see someone who didn’t have to take the time to actually engage and make you feel a little bit brighter about your day, and they do, it just means a lot.” Carrie said.

KJ and Carrie hugging

We can all agree KJ deserves a raise, right?


Written by Lindsay Patton