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‘Amazing’ surgeons who operate on teddy bears at same time as owners in Bristol’s children’s hospital

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Posted on: December 4, 2017
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The mother of a child who underwent an operation at Bristol Children’s Hospital has praised the team that did it – because they ‘operated’ on her daughter’s beloved teddy bear at the same time.

Little Erin went under general anaesthetic for an operation on her leg, clutching her teddy as she was wheeled to the operating theatre.

And when she came round after the operation, she discovered her beloved teddy had the same bandage on its ankle having apparently undergone the same operation.

Mum Meggie said she was amazed that the hospital did this – and told how this small act made all the difference to the way her daughter coped with the ordeal of being operated on at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.

And then, when the hospital posted the picture on its Facebook page, other parents whose children had undergone operations there started sharing pictures of their children’s toys – each with bandages or hospital ID wristbands, to show how the staff there do something a little extra to make their young patients feel more comfortable.

A teddy with a bandaged head after an operation at Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital

“As she was wheeled down to the operating theatre there was a lady talking to her about the teddy she was holding onto,” said Erin’s mum Meggie Iles.

“Erin explained that she takes ‘Ted’ everywhere with her and that it was mummy’s teddy when she was little,” she added.

“When I came down to recovery I was amazed to see Teddy had been operated on as well! He had cotton wool around his ankle and it was held together with a small bit of tape.

“When Erin woke up she was so happy to see Ted and that he’d had the same operation as her. It made her feel so much better that she wasn’t the only one that was different.”

Bristol Children’s Hospital patient Erin, who woke from an operation on her ankle to find her teddy had had an operation too

“I’d like to say a massive thank you to the woman who went the extra mile for my daughter when she didn’t have to. All of the staff were fantastic with her and I’m very grateful,” she added.

Bosses at the hospital made inquiries to track down the mystery teddy bear surgeon, and identified her as anaesthetist Rebecca Williams.

She said the extra time taken to ‘do an operation’ on the child’s toy often made a big difference to help the child, and aid their recovery.

A toy alligator given a patient ID wristband at Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital

“I think using toys is a great way to help children understand surgery,” she said.

“It can quite a big deal when you’re younger and you might not understand why everything happens the way it does.

“Children have very close bonds with their toys and doing this for Erin meant that someone familiar had gone through the same experience she had,” she added.

A rabbit bandaged up after an ‘operation’ at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children

After Meggie and Erin shared their story, other parents posted pictures of their own child’s toys with bandages and wristbands – to show that what happened to Erin’s teddy was not a one-off.

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