Intro: Removable Gastrostomy Button for "Play Model" Doll
Sounds strange, I know, but there is a need. When kids are given external medical devices, most of the time they are also given a "play model" with a mockup of the same device (trach, prosthetic etc.) The idea is that they can sort out their feelings about how it looks and feels on the doll/stuffed animal.
The hard thing for this project is that the plastic used for the G-tube is super soft and pliable, but also resists bonding (how, i don't know but seriously we need to make floors out of this stuff). Second obstacle is how to rig it so that it can be removed if the doll happens to be a particularly beloved toy of siblings as well. The third and trickiest is how to make it so that the doll can be play fed through the tube without also wrecking it.
The Solution! A doll shirt/G-tube harness :-)
Step 1: Parts List
My parts list expanded as I went but the final list is:
G-tube button (used is fine of course after cleaning)
Latex tubing, approximately 8 inches depending on the doll
Glue, i used liquid nails "perfect glue" ha! I laugh at their false advertising, there has to be something better than this. What I don't know, but it needs to be water proof and bind plastics reasonably well.
Needle and white thread
Cloth of desired color, a quarter yard is more than enough, also buttons if desired.
Elastic band, I used 3/4 inch wide but narrower would probably work in retrospect
1 sandwich bag or other plastic bag
1 sprinkler mount (I ended up using only a very small portion, any device with a small nozzle that will secure two pieces of the latex tubing would be fine)
Doll for sizing, also a doll shirt that came with it is handy for tracing out the new shirt.
Tools: Scissors, box knife, sewing machine would be handy but not pivotal.
Step 2: The Hard Part...fitting the G-tube
It’s a good idea to start with the G-tube, it’s likely to take the longest with drying time and testing.
First step is to remove the indwelling parts as close as you can without damaging the main body. The picture #1 here shows the afterwards.
You'll also want to cut your tubing. I used a cheap roll of tubing from a local hardware store in the kitchen appliance section, any water proof reasonably tough tube would do so long as its small and flexible. I measured around the doll from the mid-front around to the back, and then down to the diaper... and then added a couple inches to be sure. Extra slack is pretty easy to get rid of later so no worries if it’s a bit long. One end should be cut at a taper, I went with nearly 30 degrees. Line it up on the back of the G-tube button to make sure you can cover the hole and get a good seal.
I tried multiple times to get the plastic of the G tube to bond even slightly to the latex tube with no success. It was time to get creative. Since both plastics are very soft, I opted to sew them together and then use the glue as a seal. This worked well but required multiple applications of the glue. I suggest sealing it twice, and then testing it with water for leaks. I sealed it a total of 4 times, each with a few hours of drying time. This could vary depending on glue though.
Step 3: The Other End
The other end of the tube is a whole lot easier! I took the nozzle end of the sprinkler mount and cut it off. I really only needed the half inch of hard plastic that just happened to be the right size to fit snugly into the latex tube so that it can hold without glue but also be removed fairly easily.
I cut one corner out of the sandwich bag, approximately two inches square, and sealed one cut side with glue and then secured it with a piece of duck tape to be sure (it won't be seen so ugly is ok). The remaining open side i wrapped tightly around one inch of latex tubing (no angle cut), smoothed over with glue and then bound with thread and tied. The thread may not be necessary if you have half decent glue.
This completes the catch bag for anything administered by G-tube to the doll, it can be emptied pretty easily and is cheap to replace if something (or little fingers) happen to it. In the finished project it sits inside the dolls diaper or pants so sizing could be a lot bigger or smaller depending on the doll.
Step 4: The Shirt
There are probably at least a hundred different ways to make an attractive and functional shirt for this... unfortunately this is not one of them. It is functional though, and so technically it works, but if you have any patterns or better ideas please follow those instead. I pressed the doll's original shirt to a piece of fabric, cut along the edges, and then hemmed. The sleeves were looking a little scandalous so i added some fabric to close them up.... yeah, it isn't pretty, but any shirt that fits your doll will work as a base.
To the Harness! The first step is to cut a hole in the elastic band, midway from the top and bottom, and midway left to right. This is where the latex tube will run through, so it needs to be at least a 1/4 inch, probably a little bigger.
Laying the shirt face down on the table, thread the tube through the elastic towards you so that the G tube port opens towards the table and the tube comes through the elastic towards you.
Stretch the elastic to the table on either side of the G tube. You want it stretched a bit so that the tension will help hold the G tube in place, but not so far that you can't slide it back out. Pin both sides and remove the G tube. Next, pin the elastic at regular intervals (Inch to inch and a half) around the shirt with slight tension. This will help the tubing stay in place.
Sew the elastic where pinned.
Now with the bag removed, you should be able to slide the G tube into the front of the shirt, and run the Latex tube along the elastic until you reach the back. then hook it through one of the non-sewn stretches of elastic to direct it towards the diaper. Reattach the bag and your good to go!
I added an iron on flower (tube needed to be removed for that part) afterwards because the front of my shirt wasn't looking so good. It also helped hide the extra stitches for holding the elastic in place. I also used buttons to fasten the back, but elastic or hook 'n eye methods would work just as well. One of the pictures shows the back of the doll with the tube running to its diaper, it’s pretty low profile.