As of today, Dr. Daniel McNeely, a neurosurgeon from the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Canada has only tweeted twice in his life. The first time was a post; the second was a reply. Despite being unknown to most people with the exception of his family, friends, co-workers, and patients, McNeely has made quite the impression on social media, garnering nearly 2,600 followers.
The Dalhousie University alumnus recently received a rather unusual request from a young patient. Jackson McKie, 8, who was undergoing surgery to relieve pressure from his brain, asked the good doctor if he could also treat the teddy bear he had brought with him who had a broken arm.
McNeely happily obliged and even set up a table and tools to fix the stuffed animal, named Little Baby, using the leftover stitches from Jackson’s surgery. Jackson suffers from hydrocephalus, a chronic condition in which cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) accumulates within the brain, increasing pressure inside the skull, has been a patient of McNeely’s since he was an infant.
Patient asks if I can also fix teddy bear just before being put off to sleep... how could I say no? pic.twitter.com/WOKFc5zr91— P. Daniel McNeely (@pdmcneely) September 30, 2018
Jackson’s surgery was to repair a shunt, a small tube that helps drain the fluid from the brain to relieve pressure. About one to two per 1,000 babies are born with hydrocephalus. Rates in the developing world tend to be higher. About 80 to 90 percent of fetuses or newborn infants with spina bifida—often associated with meningocele or myelomeningocele—develop hydrocephalus.
The surgeon asked his coworkers to snap a few pictures of the teddy bear intervention, which he posted on Twitter with a caption reading, “Patient asks if I can also fix teddy bear just before being put off to sleep… how could I say no?”
Little did McNeely know that the post would go viral with thousands retweeting the doctor’s heartwarming gesture. “I thought it might make a few people smile, that was the only intention I had,” McNeely told CTV News Atlantic. “I’m glad that others are enjoying it.”
If anything, McNeely hopes the act of simply caring for a child undergoing surgery will inspire his fellow healthcare professionals to not only take care of their patients' physical well-being but also their emotional needs.
“[McNeely is] one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met,” Jackson’s father, Rick McKie, said about the surgeon, adding that Jackson was “tickled pink” to wake up from surgery and find that his faithful companion was also recovering.