Hospital Janitor Forges Lasting Friendship Between Two Boys In Isolation After Noticing A Love of LEGOS – Video


In Ohio, in a Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, a hospital janitor helped two boys to become friends while being treated in isolation.

Ki-Jana “KJ” Upshaw is a hospital janitor, who was responsible for changing the linens in all 82 of the patient rooms regularly. He said, “I know how to scrub a floor, wax a floor, buff the floor. When patients go home, isolation rooms – I have to put up new curtains for new patients coming in.”

While doing his work, he befriended a 7-year-old boy, named Cohen Bramlee, who was being treated in the hospital in isolation in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit.

The boy was playing with LEGOs, but then Upshaw noticed that there is another boy in the same hall, named Keagan Atkins, who was playing with the toy bricks and was building elaborate structures. 

Upshaw said, “Cohen doesn’t like to be around, like, all the doctors and stuff like that. So, they tell me that they use me to get Cohen going. Before I walked in the room, Cohen’s like, oh, KJ’s here, KJ’s here. Like, his whole mood would just change. And I’m the same way. You know, every time I walked in his room, I was always in a good mood.”

He added, “And I kept seeing that he built Legos, and I kept realizing that once I left his room, right next door, there was another kid with Legos.” Seeing the boys, he believed that both the boys were destined to become friends, but due to the isolation rules in the hospital, the boys could not visit each other’s rooms. Then he decided to help the boys and forge a friendship between them. He would communicate and swap messages between them about their LEGO creations. 

He said, “Man, like, you guys are, like, really across the hall from each other, you know, isolated and you don’t even know that – you know, you got a best friend next door and don’t even know it.”

 Carrie Bramlee, mom of Cohen said to the hospital, “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, and just getting to talk to KJ, because, you know, our world is pretty small right now. We were in that room, and Cohen was in isolation, he couldn’t leave, and it was just a bright spot in the day when [KJ] would come in and just sit there and chat with Cohen for a second.”

The friendship created by Upshaw, between the two boys, has helped them to recover quickly and they were able to meet each other in person, finally. On the day, when Keagan has recovered and was ready to leave the hospital to go home, Cohen was well enough to wear the mask and walk across the hall and come to Keagan’s door and he even gave him a farewell gift, a LEGO set. 

The mothers of both the boys are now arranging a LEGO playdate for their kids, once Cohen is well enough to leave the hospital. And it is all because of Upshaw.