Teddy bear braves surgery to comfort his little boy

A Halifax pediatric neurosurgeon had his skills put to the test when a young patient asked him to take on a double surgery and repair his ripped teddy bear.

Jackson McKie, 8, of Summerside asked his pediatric neurosurgeon to repair his ailing bear

Halifax-based neurosurgeon Daniel McNeely repaired his patient Jackson McKie's bear while the boy was recovering from his own surgery. ((Mosaab Alsuwaihel/Canadian Press/Submitted by Richard McKie))

A Halifax pediatric neurosurgeon had his skills put to the test when a young patient asked him to take on a double surgery and repair his ripped teddy bear.

Jackson McKie, 8, of Summerside, P.E.I., was having a shunt repaired last week at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.

He brought his trusty friend, Little Baby, along for the journey.

"It's his best buddy," said his father, Rick McKie. The 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."

But the inseparable duo were both under the weather. 

Jackson, who has hydrocephalus, was suffering from bad headaches. Little Baby was diagnosed with a tear of the underarm. 

Jackson McKie, 8, of Summerside, P.E.I., has hydrocephalus and was suffering from bad headaches. He and Little Baby are now both recovering. (Submitted by Richard McKie)

As the pair went into the operating room, Jackson made the surprise request.

His surgeon, Dr. Daniel McNeely, happily obliged.

"There's always a few stitches that are left over from the case itself and they normally get disposed of," said the physician, who got to work on Little Baby as soon as Jackson was stitched up, making sure to give the bear "oxygen" and monitor his vitals. 

McNeely says kids often bring stuffed animals into the operating room for comfort, but the request for the dual operation was a first. 

Despite his lack of experience with bear cubs, McNeely said he "wasn't too worried" about having the appropriate qualifications. He happily reported both procedures were successful.

When Jackson woke up, he was over the moon, said his father. 

"He was so proud. He had Little Baby laying up in the hospital bed with him and everything."

McKie said he was amazed and thankful that the surgeon went out of his way to grant Jackson's request.

"It made us feel better about being there."

Little Baby, the teddy bear, is also attached to the pulse monitor. (Submitted by Richard McKie )

McNeely decided to post the photos, the first time the surgeon has ever tweeted. The reaction has been contagious, with people overwhelmed by his act of kindness. 

"It's not what I was looking for," McNeely said of his newfound fame. "I just thought I might make some people smile somewhere."

The McKie family has printed off photos of the second surgery, so Jackson now has framed copies. 

His father said Jackson's on the mend but has some emotional moments. 

As for Little Baby's recovery: "He's coming around. According to Jackson, he's a little moody, too."

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About the Author

Carolyn Ray

Videojournalist

Carolyn Ray is a videojournalist who has reported out of three provinces and two territories, and is now based in Halifax. You can reach her at Carolyn.Ray@cbc.ca