Meet Medi Teddy, a Bear That Hides Those Scary Hospital IV Bags and Tubes, and the 12-Year-Old Connecticut Girl Who Created It
This article is one in a series at The 74 that profiles the heroes, victories, success stories and random acts of kindness found at schools all across America. Read more of our recent inspiring profiles at The74Million.org/series/inspiring.
Necessity is but one mother of invention. Sometimes compassion motivates people to put their imaginations and a handy glue gun to work.
That’s the type of inventor 12-year-old Ella Casano is – the thoughtful kind. When she was 7, Ella was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura.
“It’s when her body attacks and destroys its own platelets, so it puts her at higher risk for bleeding or injury, more than most people,” Meg Casano, Ella’s mother, told CNN.
Many children outgrow the disease, which can lead to bleeding and infection, but that hasn’t happened so far for Ella, who lives in Fairfield, Connecticut. She needs blood transfusions every six to eight weeks – not fun for anyone, let alone a child who’d rather be singing in the Fairfield County Children’s Choir than visiting the hospital.
“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,” Ella said on her website. “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.”
She grabbed a glue gun, some scissors and an old favorite teddy bear. Soon, she had created a delightful disguise for the frightening IV pole and its assortment of lifesaving, but scary, tubes and blood products.
Her goal was to make 500 Medi Teddys to give away to children who, like herself, were afraid of the hospital treatment they had to undergo.
Her mother helped with the patents, nurses from her hospital product-tested Medi Teddy, and Ella and her family found a manufacturer. They set up a GoFundMe page to cover the $5,000 cost of manufacturing 500 Medi Teddys.
But then Ella’s story took off on social media. Soon the project, and the comfort it offered, expanded.
One Facebook reader, Andrea Kurowski, said the happiness Medi Teddy spreads shouldn’t be reserved just for kids.
“Would be good for adults who need chemo … can be tough and this would add a bit of humour, too.”
Another, Emily Swope Campbell, said she wants to copy Ella’s example. “Does this help how the children react? If so, I will start making them for the hospitals around me.”
People from around the world — as far away as South Africa — soon jumped in. And even though her tax-exempt status hasn’t come through yet, Ella has raised nearly $24,000, almost five times what she asked for.
Ella and her family recently updated the GoFundMe page to keep her donors informed.
“We wanted to update you that we are working very hard on the best ways to supply a Medi Teddy to all the children, adults, and even, yes, pets, around the world who would like one, and to make sure Medi Teddy Inc. is around for a long time,” they wrote.
“Even as we work through our options, it continues to be our goal to give away as many Medi Teddys as we possibly can, while trying to meet worldwide demand.”
That may be a tall order for the budding entrepreneur, but she’s already shared one item worldwide — her good cheer.