I'm starting off by stepping aside and letting Erin Sloan bring you this first item.
So when I saw a toy designed for children with congenital heart disease to learn more about their own hearts, I wanted to share. I'm Erin Sloan, by the way, PN's audience engagement extraordinaire.
My daughter was born in 2020 with a complex, undiagnosed heart defect called pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum. Basically, where the unoxygenated blood was supposed to go to her lungs to get oxygen was closed off. She's OK now, thanks to a procedure via catheter at three days old, but her future is uncertain, with many cardiology visits, catheters and (hopefully not) heart surgery to come.
An ICU visit for her this past winter awakened a fear the now 17-month-old hadn't had previously, so I realized I need to begin the preparations to make her more comfortable with doctors and learn about her heart. Where do I even start?
The team developed a plush octopus with a removable 3D printed heart to serve as a companion animal and teaching tool. There's also an app involved so kids can give checkups to their Octo and learn more about cardiovascular function.
Why an octopus? They're sort of the unofficial mascot for CHD kids because they have three hearts!
Undergraduate student Levi Skelton said, "I think designers have a lot to bring to the medical field, especially for children."
There's definitely a space out there for child-friendly tools for learning about their medical conditions, and I'm glad to see someone else thinking about this so maybe I won't have so many sleepless nights worrying.