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My Special Aflac Duck® Makes Landing at CHOC Children's Hospital

Patients Receive Robotic Duck Designed to Help Them Cope with Cancer

ORANGE, Calif., June 10, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Aflac, the leader in supplemental insurance sales at U.S. worksites, delivered My Special Aflac Ducks to patients at CHOC Children's Hospital. My Special Aflac Duck, designed by Sproutel, is a social robot that uses medical play, lifelike movement, and emotions to engage and help comfort kids during cancer treatment. Last week's delivery to CHOC Children's Hospital follows more than 18 months of child-centered research conducted with children, parents and medical providers at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Sophia Zuniga, a three-year old cancer patient, kisses her new My Special Aflac Duck, a robotic companion designed to comfort her and other pediatric cancer patients throughout their treatment, after receiving this special gift at CHOC Children's Hospital in Orange, Calif. on Wednesday, June 5, 2019.

"The entire Aflac family is pleased to make this special delivery and bring necessary comfort and companionship to the courageous children facing cancer at CHOC Children's Hospital," Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos said. "It brings us great joy to witness the impact that My Special Aflac Duck has had on the lives of young patients and families across the country since we launched this remarkable innovation last year. We look forward to continuing toward our goal of getting a duck into the arms of the more than 15,000 children diagnosed with cancer in America each year."

At the delivery event, attendees were treated to a demonstration of My Special Aflac Duck, highlighting how it will help comfort children and serve as a tool for health care professionals to use with their patients. After the demonstration, children and their parents went on a fun scavenger hunt, finding clues and visiting various locations throughout the oncology unit, eventually leading them to the discovery of their very own My Special Aflac Duck.

"We are delighted to help lift the spirits of the brave young patients at CHOC Children's Hospital and their families," The Aflac Foundation, Inc. President Kathelen Amos said. "Working with this excellent institution to provide My Special Aflac Ducks to the children they support daily is a momentous step forward in our mission, and we are grateful to all those involved in making it happen."

To date, Aflac has hosted special delivery events for My Special Aflac Duck in six cities (Atlanta; Houston; Nashville, Tennessee; New Orleans; Omaha, Nebraska; and Columbia, South Carolina) and has distributed ducks to children in more than 200 hospitals and facilities in 47 states. Aflac will continue to expand its My Special Aflac Duck campaign to hospitals across the country, providing a My Special Aflac Duck to any newly diagnosed child in the United States, above the age of 3, for free. The company has invested more than $3 million for the research, design and delivery of My Special Aflac Duck. Aflac and Sproutel invested nearly two years to research and develop My Special Aflac Duck.

In addition to My Special Aflac Duck, Sproutel created a free companion app for smartphones and tablets available through the Apple App Store and Google Play. Additional features of My Special Aflac Duck include:

  • Emotional expression: Seven RFID-enabled feeling cards help children communicate; the duck acts out a given emotion when that feeling card is tapped to its chest.
  • Medical and nurturing play: A chemotherapy port allows children to mirror their care experiences via play, giving them a sense of control during the process. The duck's no-cost companion app allows users to "bathe" it, "feed" it and give it "medicine" via augmented reality.
  • Music, singing and nuzzling: The duck sings when music is played. Customizable sounds include gentle waves, wind and a farm.
  • Breathing and heartbeat: The duck produces a naturalistic heartbeat and deep breathing, which caregivers can incorporate into calming routines and exercises.
  • Batteries and accessories: Provided so it is ready to use out of the box.
  • Convenience: A removable skin, which can be washed to adhere to hospital hygiene standards.

"At CHOC Children's Hospital, we pride ourselves on offering not only the highest quality medical care, but also creating a supportive and caring environment for our patients and their families. When we heard about My Special Aflac Duck, we were excited about the opportunity to offer this to our patients," Brianne Ortiz, manager of the Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department at CHOC, said. "We are honored to partner with Aflac. Their unique innovation gives us the opportunity to enhance our existing programs and services available to CHOC patients, while putting smiles on their faces."

"At Aflac's core, we are committed to helping children and families impacted by pediatric cancer, and we are honored to support those in Orange County by bringing My Special Aflac Duck to their wonderful hospital," Aflac Senior Vice President, Chief ESG and Communications Officer Catherine Hernandez-Blades said. "We are thankful to our partners at CHOC Children's Hospital for helping us build on our efforts to make a difference in the lives of every child with cancer in America."

Since 1995, Aflac has contributed more than $134 million to the pediatric cancer cause, including more than $500,000 donated each month by 17,000 independent agents licensed to sell Aflac products. The funds are committed directly from their monthly commission checks. To see My Special Aflac Duck in action and to learn more about this important cause, please visit AflacChildhoodCancer.org.

About CHOC Children's:
CHOC Children's is exclusively committed to improving the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach, education and research. Our growing health care community includes two state-of-the-art pediatric hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo, many primary and specialty care clinics, a mental health inpatient center and four clinical centers of excellence – the CHOC Children's Heart, Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Hyundai Cancer Institutes. To learn more, visit www.choc.org.

About Aflac Incorporated
Aflac Incorporated (AFL) is a Fortune 500 company helping provide protection to more than 50 million people through its subsidiaries in Japan and the U.S., where it is a leading supplemental insurer, by paying cash fast when policyholders get sick or injured. For more than six decades, insurance policies of Aflac Incorporated's subsidiaries have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. Aflac Life Insurance Japan is the leading provider of medical and cancer insurance in Japan, where it insures 1 in 4 households. Through its trailblazing One Day PaySM initiative in the United States, for eligible claims, Aflac can process, approve and electronically send funds to claimants for quick access to cash in just one business day. For 13 consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. In 2018, Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in America for the 20th consecutive year, and in 2019, Fortune included Aflac on its list of World's Most Admired Companies for the 18th time. To find out more about One Day PaySM and learn how to get help with expenses health insurance doesn't cover, get to know us at aflac.com.

Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. WWHQ | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999.

Aflac Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Aflac)

Media contact: Kristen Fraser, 706.580.3813 or mediarelations@aflac.com 
Analyst and investor contact: David A. Young, 706.596.3264 or dyoung@aflac.com

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