"I thought it was an unusual request, but I was only too happy to help if it could provide the patient with a bit of comfort," the surgeon explained.
A Halifax pediatric neurosurgeon won hearts across social media a few years ago after he posted his first-ever tweet. The tweet, which featured an unlikely patient on the surgeon's operating table, gained over 42k likes for the heartwarming story behind the snaps. Dr. Daniel McNeely, who works at IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, revealed that he was about to head into a procedure to repair a shunt for an 8-year-old patient of his when the boy put forth an unusual request: My teddy bear is ripped. Please stitch him up.
"Patient asks if I can also fix teddy bear just before being put off to sleep... how could I say no?" Dr. McNeely tweeted, along with two photos of the neurosurgeon poised over a little stuffed bear that was wearing a teeny-tiny mask. According to Global News, the young boy was a longtime patient of McNeely's named Jackson McKie. The child, who has a cyst on his brain and a chronic condition called hydrocephalus, wanted his trusty friend, Little Baby, by his side as he underwent an operation to re-open a shunt to drain excess fluid putting pressure on his brain.
"It's his best buddy," the boy's father, Rick McKie, told CBC. He revealed that the stuffed bear was given to the family when they went to get an ultrasound to find out the sex of their baby.
"When he was born, he had it ever since with him. Through thick or thin," he said. Unfortunately, Little Baby was diagnosed with a tear of the underarm and needed some professional help to get back in ship shape. McNeely graciously agreed to fix Jackson's furry friend and took the task very seriously once he'd finished operating on his human patient.
Human pediatric neurosurgeon AND ursine pediatric orthopedic surgeon...impressive!— Karim Mukhida (@kmukhida) September 30, 2018
The surgeon placed the bear on a table, put on blue gloves, and used leftover stitches from the child's surgery to repair the underarm tear on the bear. "There's always a few stitches that are leftover from the case itself and they normally get disposed of," he explained, adding that while kids often bring stuffed animals into the operating room for comfort, the request for the dual operation was a first. "I thought it was an unusual request, but I was only too happy to help if it could provide the patient with a bit of comfort," McNeely told USA Today. As for why he put an anesthesia mask over the bear's nose, the surgeon tweeted: "Neonatal face mask — helps to preserve the teddy bear’s anonymity!"
The bear had a torn armpit. Perhaps a long acting local anesthetic with conscious sedation?— Laura Sandy (Seddon) (@Mumofalltrades) October 3, 2018
A medical resident captured the unusual surgery on camera and McNeely later showed the photographs to the family. "They seemed so delighted with the pictures," he said. "It seemed to make them quite happy." Despite his lack of experience with teddy bears, the surgeon said he "wasn't too worried" about having the appropriate qualifications. He happily reported both procedures—Jackson's and Little Baby's—were successful. McKie revealed that his son was over the moon when he woke up after the surgery. "He was so proud. He had Little Baby laying up in the hospital bed with him and everything," he said.
One of our latest advanced offerings at the world class IWK Health Centre in Halifax NS. I don’t think SickKids, Boston Childrens or even Great Ormond St offer this service, yet. Canada surgeon operates on teddy bear for 8-year-old boy https://t.co/9IHDRZgGte— Andrew Lynk (@andrewlynk) October 3, 2018
McKie said he was amazed and thankful that McNeely went out of his way to grant Jackson's request. "It made us feel better about being there," he said. "When we get there we're terrified to death, but every time we talk to Dr. McNeely we feel better." Addressing his newfound fame, the kindhearted surgeon admitted that he hadn't expected it to go viral. "It's not what I was looking for," McNeely said. "I just thought I might make some people smile somewhere."