UNC medical school group raises money for children's medical play kits

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Medical students Charlotte Story (left) and Ashley Thrower started a fundraiser to buy more Medical Play Kits for children recently diagnosed with cancer.

The Hematology Oncology Interest Group at the UNC School of Medicine is holding a fundraiser at the UNC Hospitals to purchase medical kits for children in the hospital to use.

Learning to play with the kits can help make hospital stays easier for the children.

Charlotte Story, co-president of the Hematology Oncology Interest Group, said allowing children to play with a medical kit has many benefits. She said understanding how the medical tools work can help children understand why they need certain procedures.

“For very young children, IVs and stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs can be very frightening,” she said.

“Medical play provides children with an opportunity to become more familiar with medical equipment and decrease children’s fears. This can also lead to conversations that improve a child’s understanding of why a specific test/procedure needs to happen and how to cope. The overall goal of medical play is to increase a child’s comfort and make important medical care less scary.”

Ashley Thrower, co-president of the group, said they came up with the idea for the fundraiser when they were at the UNC Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Clinic. She said they realized that the kits could help children feel more comfortable during their stay in the hospital.

“The idea came to us after speaking with the Child Life Specialist at the UNC Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Clinic,” she said. “We learned that the kits were originally donated to the clinic a few years prior by a former patient’s family and were being given to newly diagnosed patients to help familiarize the children with medical equipment and procedures. However, recently they ran out of medical play kits for patients.”

Stephanie Mazze, the Child Life specialist who proposed the idea to Thrower and Story, said these items are recognizable.

“These are children’s doctor play kits: a little doctor bag with a pretend stethoscope, thermometer, blood pressure cuff, syringe, otoscope, etc.,” she said. “You might have had one when you were little.”

Thrower said this event is not a public event organized by the UNC Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Clinic. Instead, medical students from UNC Medical School plan the fundraiser.

“This fundraiser is not being run by the UNC Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Clinic,” Thrower said. “As state employees, they are not legally permitted to run fundraisers like this one. It is the UNC School of Medicine Hematology Oncology Interest Group and medical students that are conducting the fundraiser to support and benefit the UNC Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Clinic.”

Each medical kit costs approximately $17 and the club is trying to raise $3,700, which will allow them to donate 200 medical kits to the UNC Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Clinic. They have aready raised $1,229 dollars.

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