When a young boy was going in for surgery, his dad had no idea his son had voiced one last request for his doctor before going under. It wasn’t until after the surgery that the stunned parent learned what the doctor agreed to do without telling him.
Dr. Daniel McNeely, a Halifax neurosurgeon, has seen a lot in his career. But, thanks to eight-year-old Jackson McKie, he performed a career first after the young patient voiced one last request before being put to sleep for yet another surgery during his short life. Jackson’s dad Rick had no idea what the doctor had planned during his son’s procedure until after young Jackson’s surgery was over.
Dr. McNeely had cared for Jackson since he was just an infant after the boy was born with a cyst on his brain and a chronic condition called hydrocephalus. Unfortunately, a shunt, which was required because of the boy’s condition in order to drain excess fluid and prevent it from putting pressure on the brain, needed re-opened, CTV News reported. That meant Jackson needed yet another surgery, and Dr. Neely would be the one to do it.
Since Jackson had seen the inside of a hospital far too many times growing up, like many of Dr. Daniel McNeely’s patients, the youngster brought a stuffed toy to the operating room with him in order to comfort him through the terrifying experience. His teddy bear, which he had named “Little Baby,” alleviated some of the stress the surgery and hospitalization caused for the young boy.
Having grown close to Dr. Neely, who had fought in his corner since he entered the world, Jackson felt confident he could ask the doctor for a special favor while he was under. Jackson asked the neurosurgeon to stitch up his beloved teddy bear while he recovered from surgery. So, the busy doctor had the nurses prepare a small operating table, where he got to work caring for “Little Baby” after Jackson’s operation was complete. Using leftover stitches from Jackson’s procedure, the skilled surgeon patched up the bear.
A medical resident snapped a few photos of the heartwarming moment, and since this was a first for him, the doctor posted them to Twitter. “Patient asks if I can also fix teddy bear just before being put off to sleep… how could I say no?” Dr. McNeely wrote alongside the images. To his shock, his kind gesture quickly went viral. “I thought it might make a few people smile, that was the only intention I had. I’m glad that others are enjoying it,” he said after seeing the attention the tweet was receiving.
Explaining why he didn’t hesitate and simply couldn’t say no to the boy’s request, McNealy said, “I thought if there was something I could do to help make him feel better, it seemed like a simple gesture and I was only too happy to oblige.” And, it worked. When Jackson awoke from surgery, he was “tickled pink” to see Little Baby had been patched up the same as him. He’s even going to print a photo of the bear’s surgery and frame it for his room.
Jackson’s dad Rick has appreciated McNeely’s care as a physician during the family’s many visits, but he was incredibly pleased to see what the doctor had done for his son during the recent surgery since Little Baby is always by Jackson’s side, especially when he’s in pain. “When we get there, we’re terrified to death, but every time we talk to Dr. McNeely, we feel better,” Rick explained. “He’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.”
Indeed, the good doctor proved he’s not just an incredible neurosurgeon but also an amazing person. The small gesture is just one example of how healthcare providers can care for and comfort their patients in non-medical ways — something too many professionals neglect to do. Sometimes, it’s not incredibly skilled and difficult things we do that make the biggest difference. Rather, it’s the menial tasks, which initially might seem so much less important, that turn out to be the most significant.