By Vince Gerasole

CHICAGO (CBS)–There is no arguing that Sarah Dynia has touched a lot of hearts.

“When I first started out I didn’t realize how big a part of my life this would be,” she said.

She’s made 12,000 pillows for kids with congenital heart disease so far–and she’s not slowing down.

All of the pillows are made with love, hand-stitched without a sewing machine.

“This is something children can hold after surgery,” she said.

She saves photos of the babies with the pillows, which are sometimes used to prop up IV tubes.

Her endeavor started with a class project she worked on in junior high when she was growing up in suburban Oak Lawn.

She’s now a senior at Northwestern, and her passion for providing comfort for babies who need it most continues to thrive.

“Eight years of practice has definitely helped,” she said.

She named her charity “Stuffed Love.”

It’s been able to grow because she attends stitching events, where she recruits other people who love to sew .

And along the way of her journey, with needle and thread in hand, she’s also sewn together the fabric of her life.

“It’s something that developed into being part of my identity — I can’t unstitch myself from being the ‘Stuffed Love’ girl,” she said.

And with parents and patients often reaching back out to her, she’s discovered the common threads that bind them together.

“I never thought I would get a Facebook message out of the blue saying, ‘I want to forget this experience of pain, but seeing your heart made me remember everything I’ve conquered,’ (and) that’s something that blows me away every time.”

She’s now planning to pursue a career as a doctor.

Vince Gerasole