It stands to reason that surgeons have gifted hands. They need to wield their scalpels with a dexterity that many may not have. But having steady hands doesn’t necessarily mean you have the skill an artist uses to draw.
Unless you are Dr. Robert Perry, the director of pediatric surgery at Akron Children’s Hospital in Akron, Ohio. Dr. Perry is a surgeon and an artist, and he uses his two gifts in a thoughtful way. A way to help ease children through the process of recovering from an operation.
How? By covering up what could be a scary incision with a picture that means something to them.
Dr. Parry’s Pre-Op Process
Anyone who has ever had scheduled surgery knows there’s a fairly standard pre-op process. Some of it will happen in the days and weeks before, and some of it will happen in the minutes before.
Dr. Parry asks for some unique information that surely isn’t a part of any standard process. He takes the time to discover a child’s favorite thing or favorite cartoon character. And then he puts his art skills to use, painting a bandage with that image.
According to an email interview with CNN,
“Disney characters and sports team logos are the most popular request Parry gets,” adding that, “he once got a pun-inspired request, for which he made a French salad ‘dressing’ bottle.”
In a separate interview with The Washington Post, he said,
“There was a girl once who really wanted a cheeseburger, but couldn’t eat after surgery, so she woke up and found a cheeseburger drawn on her bandage.”
Parry says that each illustration takes him about 5 minutes to draw.
Dr. Parry’s Inspiration
Dr. Parry, who has been practicing for more than 30 years, with the last nine at the Akron Children’s Hospital, was initially inspired by a Dr. Perry Stafford. This was during his residency at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Stafford would cut out shapes like hearts and sharks.
“My first reaction when I initially saw him cut out these hearts and sharks was, ‘What is he doing? Hey, that’s kind of neat,’” Parry tells The Washington Post. “I especially liked the reactions of the parents and the patients when they saw his artwork. The smiles distracted everyone from the surgery.”
It wasn’t long before he moved on from those cut-out hearts and sharks to the art he is creating today.
What Motivates Dr. Parry?
So what moves him to draw pictures on bandages for children?
There is his love of art, which he says he’s always enjoyed, whether it was drawing or watercolors.
And he loves working with children. Throughout his career, he estimates more than 10,000 have received one of his custom bandages. And this includes newborns to young adults. If they need a dressing after a procedure or operation, they get a drawing.
But what truly motivates him? The knowledge that what he’s doing makes everyone feel good.
“In the end, it’s just fun to do, and it makes everyone, including me, feel good. Simple as that.”
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