Ella Casano is not your typical 12-year-old girl.
The young girl from Fairfield, Connecticut has to receive an IV transfusion every six to eight weeks, which mean she consistently faces what most kids hate — needles.
Casano was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura or ITP, when she was seven. This autoimmune disorder makes her body destroy its own platelets.
“Without her IV, her platelets are dangerously low,” Meghan Casano, Ella’s mother, said. “When her platelets are low, it is dangerous for her to do certain activities because of bleeding or injury.”
The experience of getting an IV treatment so often can be very stressful for Casano. “One of the main things I noticed was it was very intimidating,” she said. “I wanted to hide it.” Hoping to address that fear, Casano came up with the idea of a “Medi Teddy,” a cover with a flat back and pouch that resembles a teddy bear.
“From a child’s perspective, (a hospital can be a) very scary surrounding. Teddy bears are something children recognize and (the experience becomes) better for the child,” Dr. Rebecca Pillai Riddell, assistant vice president of research at York University, said.
Pillai Riddell does research on the ways that regular medical procedures can cause stress in children. She says the “Medi Teddy” will be able to reduce stress for children who are worried or fearful as they go through a procedure.
“When you reduce stress before a medical procedure, (you) can reduce stress during and after a medical procedure,” according to Pillai Riddell.
Casano is hoping that her “Medi Teddy” can help reduce stress for other children. She has a goal to donate more than 500 of the covers to children in hospitals across the country. She also started a fundraising campaign that has raised nearly $15,000 in a week.
“We've been getting a lot of positive feedback,” Casano said. “It makes me feel really good because I know I’m actually helping people with it.”
Casano and her mom hope to turn “Medi Teddy” into a nonprofit organization that will one day include other animals and accessories.