Backpacks brighten pre-surgery moments for kids, parents

Makayla Prather of Rantoul before eye surgeryNine-year-old Makayla Prather, an honor student at Broadmeadow Elementary School in Rantoul, couldn’t wait to get back to school after eye surgery this month. She wasn’t quite as excited for the surgery itself.

“She was nervous until they gave her the medicine (to sedate her for the procedure),” mom Maqueshia Dixon said.

A few small and sweet things in a special package—no, not candy—helped.

“She really liked the bear and the coloring book, and she put her socks that she wore there right in the backpack,” Dixon said.

Children who come to Carle’s One-Day Surgery for minor procedures still can face major anxiety. To make the experience a bit easier, the surgical team gives pediatric patients a colorful backpack filled with fun surprises to keep them busy while staff preps them for surgery. Thanks to generous donations to Carle Center for Philanthropy, each backpack includes items like a small stuffed animal, a coloring book, a box of crayons and a small toy.

Backpacks for pediatric surgery patientsCarle Center for Philanthropy hopes to expand the program to all Carle SurgiCenter locations. Give easily online today to help purchase items for the backpacks and ease the stress of surgery for young patients.

Makayla loves to draw pictures for the books she writes about her family, her dog and what she does for fun. Her mother hopes this second surgery will be the last to realign her eyes, which pointed outward.

Hadley Smith, 4, had similar surgery on her eyes, which pointed inward. Mom Holly Smith got a kick out of the backpack’s contents.

“We love the tiger-striped bear. It sparked some good conversation about why a bear would have tiger stripes,” Holly said with a laugh.

Being fans of The Beatles helped the Smiths name Hadley’s unique new friend.

Hadley Smith and her family“Ringo got an armband just like Hadley,” Holly said. “We brought her favorite blanket, but we didn’t bring anything for her to do. After she got her backpack, she colored for a bit and was glad she got to keep the crayons.”

Hadley wasn’t too nervous about the surgery. Her parents weren’t, either.

“We had a couple months to plan. We knew she was in good hands with Dr. (George) Panagakis. We’d heard success stories from other patients,” Holly said.

Both girls bounced back quickly and still enjoy their treasures.

“Makayla said the backpack was so nice,” Dixon said. “I thought it was such a nice gesture.”