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This Little Girl is Disguising IVs as Teddy Bears to Help Other Sick Kids

Samantha Vincenty
Photo credit: medi-teddy.org/Meg Casano

From Oprah Magazine

  • 12-year-old Ella Casano invented the Medi Teddy IV covers to make the infusions for her autoimmune disease less "intimidating."
  • Ella's family is raising funds to provide more Medi Teddys for other sick kids.
  • The adorable invention is available for pre-order.

Hospital stays can be scary no matter your age. Even under the best of conditions, the (literally) sterile environment is alienating, with wall-to-wall wipeable surfaces and the many mysterious medical devices you find yourself hooked up to. So kids who need medical care deserve any extra comfort they can get to make their time there a little cozier-which is why Ella Casano invented a brilliant way to make her own treatments more pleasant. Enter the Medi Teddy.

Ella, now 12, was diagnosed with a rare, persistent case of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP) when she was 7 years old.

"Without any treatment, I have an extremely low number of platelets in my body, and I am at a high risk for bleeding or injury which makes it hard for me to play certain sports or participate in certain activities," Ella says on her invention's site. "I can’t go sledding, climb trees, play sports like soccer or lacrosse, ride my bike, or even do PE class when my platelets are very low."

Ella's autoimmune disease requires regular infusions every 8 weeks, and from her first infusion as a young child, she was "surprised and a little bit intimidated" by the jumble of bags, tubes and wires on her IV pole. The young inventor eventually realized she wasn't the only kid that felt this way.

"As I saw more and more children experiencing the same feelings, I became more interested in creating a friendlier experience for young IV patients," Ella writes, "so I created Medi Teddy. I hope that Medi Teddy helps you just as much as it helps me!"

Ella's mom, Meg Casano, told CNN that the prototype was born when her daughter "cut up a stuffed animal and used a hot glue gun." Nurses who were taken by the toy-turned-medical accessory helped refine the design with feedback after trying it, Meg says.

Now, the Medi Teddy is a proper piece of medical equipment, with a mesh pouch on its fuzzy little back to hold a bag or bottle of liquid. And on the front, as their product description says, "the child sees a friendly face and not the bag of medication, blood product, or IV fluid being infused."

With this moment of ingenuity, a non-profit mission was born: The Casanos have raised enough money to produce and donate 500 Medi Teddys to pediatric patients who are scared of their IVs like she was. Hoping to raise $5,000 to meet this goal, donations have far surpassed their wildest expectations in just days.

Their new challenge? Meeting the demand.

"Never in a million years did we expect the outpouring of world-wide support and desire for Medi Teddy!" a volunteer wrote in an update to their GoFundMe page. "You guys knocked this out of the park and we are so grateful!!!!"

The comments on their GoFundMe are an emotional read, ranging from an outpouring of admiration for Ella to stories from parents who'd love one for their own kids.

Donate to help more hospitalized kids get a Medi Teddy here, and you can get on the pre-order waiting list right now.

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