Girl Makes Teddy Bears That Hide IV Bags for Young Hospital Patients

Medi Teddy covers the IV bags so children can see a smiling stuffed teddy bear and not a scary IV bag.

Jun 30, 2019

Being in the hospital can be frightening for children, but almost 13-year old Ella Casano is trying to make it a lot less so. She came up with a stuffed animal bear – the Medi Teddy – that covers IV bags and makes the experience a lot less threatening for children like herself.

Ella was only 7-years old when she was diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a rare autoimmune disease that causes her blood not to clot normally and have a lower amount of blood platelets.

"Many kids who get this grow out of it within a few months but for me, its never gone away," Ella wrote on the Medi Teddy website; "that makes me very rare."

Her condition is not contagious but since her platelet count has been as low as 10,000 per microliter of circulating blood – a healthy person's count is between 150,000 to 450,000 – she is at high risk for bleeding or injury so she cannot participate in many activities that kids her age love to do like sports, climbing trees or even going sledding.

Ella has to receive an IV of IVG about every eight weeks to help increase the number of platelets in her body at an outpatient clinic. The first time she went into the Fairfield Connecticut hospital, she was frightened by the procedure.

“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,” said Ella. “As I saw more and more children experiencing the same feelings, I became more interested in creating a friendlier experience for young IV patients."

That's why Ella created Medi Teddy so that children did not have to see IV bags filled with scary looking fluids and could see a friendly smiling bear IV cover. The bear is a stuffed animal pouch that covers the IV bag but has a mesh back so that doctors can check on the fluid or meds that the child is receiving.

She made one for herself, and her nurses loved the idea and said that they wished other children could have them too, Ella's mom Meg told Goodnet.

Ella patented her creation and found a company – New England Toy – but the minimum order was 500 units. So to get the project started, Ella and her family created a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to manufacture the Medi Teddys. The goal was to raise $5,000 to distribute free to 500 kids.

There has been a massive outpouring of support and parent's from across the globe have been writing to the family saying they want their children to have one too and they have been donating to the fund. Meg said that they were astonished to raise almost $23,000 and they just ordered 2,000 of the bears.

"I donated because I remember my own experience dealing with an IV. I wish I could go back and have a Medi Teddy on my IV bag. Ella's idea will change the quality of life for folks of all ages in need of comfort, William Toler wrote on the Gofundme page. "Thank you, Ella!"

The Medi Teddy company is a nonprofit and the family is working on getting 501(c)3 status so that they can work with hospitals and charities to fund and distribute the bears so that more children will be able to have a "friend" in the hospital.

Ella is a remarkable tween who doesn't focus on her disease or the things that she cannot do but rather on everything she can, saying, "despite all this, I still have things I love to do and are safe for me most of the time. I like to read and study, go fishing, and I love to sing with the Fairfield children's choir, and perform in school musicals." She has her parents, three younger sisters, and two rescue dogs to support her.

Ella's invention will help many children overcome their fear of hospitals and treatments and make it much more "bearable" with the help of a friendly face.  

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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