Thousands of knitted hearts have been sent to a Glasgow hospital to help connect coronavirus patients and their loved ones.
One heart is given to the patient while the other is sent out to their next of kin, who may be unable to visit.
More than 4,500 have been sent to Glasgow Royal Infirmary after an appeal from intensive care nurse Liz Smith.
So many have come in, they are now being shared with other wards and hospitals across the city.
Staff nurse Liz was inspired by similar initiatives at hospitals across the UK where knitted hearts have been used to bring comfort to families unable to see a loved one who is dying.
The scale of the response to an initial Facebook appeal means the hearts are now being given to less seriously-ill and non-Covid patients to bring a sense of connection, while rigorous infection control measures are in place.
“We have been blown away by the numbers we have received and I know that many staff have been uplifted reading the small notes that have accompanied many of them,” she said.
“It’s amazing to see hearts arriving from all over Scotland and we even have deliveries from Ireland and England. There are hearts made from all different fabrics, shapes and sizes.
“We have passed on around 1,500 hearts to other wards across the hospital who are providing care to other patients, either with or without Covid-19, who are unable to receive visitors.
“Within our unit we have been making sure that each patient has an allocated heart which is either placed in their hand or beside them on their pillow. The matching heart is then posted out to their next of kin with a short note to tell them what the hearts are for.”
More than 700 hearts have also been sent to the Royal Hospital for Children on the other side of the city where many newborn babies have been separated from their fathers due to isolation precautions.
Knitters are asked to use clean wool and once they are knitted to deliver the hearts in resealable plastic bags with the date clearly written on it.
The hearts are stored for at least five days following guidance from infection control before being distributed, according to the health board.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) board nurse director Margaret McGuire said the hearts had been providing a small measure of comfort for relatives, even in cases where the patient did not recover.
“When a patient dies it is considerably unsettling not just for the families but for our staff who have been caring for them,” she said.
“Our staff want to support families by providing comfort and support and this is especially prevalent at the moment when our patients are dying from coronavirus.
“We hope that offering families a small knitted heart and reassuring them that one will remain with their loved one will be a small comfort to them during a difficult time and we are asking that knitters across NHSGGC will support us to be able to offer this small token.”