Teddy Bear Surgery

Laurel at Teddy Bear SurgeryLast weekend was our college’s annual open house. The event is entirely run by student volunteers, and guests come to visit from all over the state. This year was my last time to attend Open House as a volunteer, which was bittersweet because volunteering is always rewarding.

I worked at one of the most popular events offered at Open House known as “Teddy Bear Surgery.” Children bring their stuffed animals to Open House and perform “surgery” with the assistance of second and third-year veterinary students in the actual surgery suites in the Small Animal Hospital. We make the experience as close to actual surgery as we can, so everyone is dressed in proper surgical attire, and we use leftover/donated surgical suture and surgical equipment. It is so much fun to see these future veterinarians gowned and gloved toting their “patients” in for surgery.

During my shift, I helped my teddy bear surgeons perform operations ranging from major orthopedic surgery on the spine of a teddy bear to splinting the tail of a walrus! My favorite surgery was on a green stuffed dog named “Green Puppy,” in which the surgeon declared he needed “colon surgery.” We proceeded to do an “abdominal exploratory” on this dog, “resected the bowel,” and “closed the incision,” and the girl was thrilled. She took her job as assistant surgeon very seriously, and I even had her checking her patient’s vitals on our anesthetic monitoring machine! I think I had just as much fun as she did.

As finals week rapidly approaches, and my enthusiasm for school wanes, I remind myself of the excitement I felt when playing “teddy bear surgeon” with the next generation of vets.