Childhood is supposed to be filled with fun and play. Unfortunately, some children are deprived of freedom and playtime due to serious medical conditions. Instead of going out and playing with other kids, these sick children are confined in hospitals or home care for their medication and treatment. This is the agonizing truth about having a serious illness at a young age. Just the mere sight of a hospital bed or IV bags can be traumatizing for these kids. But a certain young girl with a rare medical condition found a way to ease the distress of young patients. By creating Medi Teddy, sick children who are infused with IV medications won’t get to see the scary-looking medicine bag. Instead, they will be looking up at a friendly-looking teddy bear.
Ella Casano, a 12-year-old girl from Connecticut, was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) when she was seven. This is an immune disorder as a result of an unusually low level of platelets in the blood. Platelets are cell fragments that are naturally produced in the bone marrow. These tiny, colorless cells circulate in the blood to perform one important task. If one of the blood vessels gets damaged, the platelets rush to the damaged site to form clots in order to stop bleeding. The normal level of platelet count should be 150,000 per microliter. If the level falls below normal then there’s a risk of thrombocytopenia. Patients with ITP usually have platelet counts below 20,000. With proper medication and transfusion, some of them may recover within a few months.
But in Ella’s case, her platelet count is below 10,000 and she may not be able to recover from it. This makes her case a rare one which requires IV infusion every 8 weeks and a week-long steroid administration after every infusion. Sadly, she would have to undergo this treatment in her lifetime to increase her platelet count. Along with the treatment, she is not allowed to engage in physical activities to prevent risks of bleeding and injury. Unlike most kids of her age, she can’t play her favorite sports, climb trees, or ride her bike. Although she finds ways to entertain herself through reading, singing, and fishing, the sight of IV bags still terrify her.
“When I had my first infusion, I was surprised and a little bit intimidated by the look of the amount of tubing and medical equipment on my IV pole. As I saw more and more children experiencing the same feelings, I became more interested in creating a friendlier experience for young IV patients, so I created Medi Teddy” Ella wrote on her website.
The Medi Teddy is basically a stuffed toy featuring the smiling face of a cute teddy bear on the façade. But at the back of the plush toy, there’s a pouch made of elastic mesh that holds the IV bag. Medi Teddy has one simple yet important role. And that is to hide the IV bag containing mysterious fluids from the eyes of the young patients.
Ella wished to share her creations and help other young patients to ease their stress. Her mother helped her launch the campaign on GoFundMe in order to create 500 Medi Teddy and donate them to hospitals. Thankfully, the fundraiser campaign gained an overwhelming support from kind-hearted donors. You can also donate thru GoFundMe or on this website to help Ella create more Medi Teddy. Moreover, your donation can help more sick children overcome their fear of IV medications.
Twelve-year-old Ella Casano creates a teddy bear with a pouch at the back to hold and conceal IV bags