CT teenager’s ‘Medi Teddy’ invention makes IV medication just a little less scary

FAIRFIELD — When Ella Casano was 7, she was diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rare autoimmune disorder that results in a low count of platelets, which help in blood clotting.

That meant, if she got hurt, her blood wouldn’t clot properly. “It wasn’t safe for me to do things like play sports or participate in gym,” said Ella, now 13.

To help her live a regular life, the Fairfield child had to undergo lengthy infusions of intravenous medications. But, she said, it was scary, watching those bags of fluid drain into her body. Even at her young age, Ella wondered if the process would be easier if she didn’t have to see the bags of IV fluid — if there was some sort of cover that could be put on the bags to make everything feel less intimidating.

When she was in fifth grade, Ella was encouraged to create something for her school’s Invention Convention. She decided to create a cover for IV bags that would make them a bit less frightening, and the Medi Teddy was born. The Medi Teddy is a bag shaped like a teddy bear that is placed over the IV bags.

“I basically just wanted to create something that would benefit not just me but other kids,” Ella explained. “It just brightens up a patient’s room. All that medication going inside you — that’s a scary thought the Medi Teddy provides a friendly face in the midst of all that.”

Since she created the Medi Teddy, she has gone on a different kind of medication that doesn’t require regular IV infusions. But that hasn’t stopped her from helping other children. She’s gotten a patent for her invention and she and her mother Meghan have donated thousands of Medi Teddys to children across the United States and in 23 other countries.

Last month, the New York Knicks and the website building platform Squarespace named Medi Teddy (which also goes by the name IV Comfort Solutions) as one of four winners of its fourth annual “Make It Awards.” Each of the winning businesses will be provided with a $30,000 grant, a one-year subscription to Squarespace, a feature segment on MSG Networks and one-on-one mentorship from a member of the esteemed panel of judges.

The Casanos said their grant money will go toward giving at least 500 of its new “Hope” line of plastic Medi Teddys to New York area hospitals. The Hope Medi Teddys are reusable and intended to be more COVID-safe than the original plush variety.

Both Ella and Meghan Casano said they were excited by this latest development, though Meghan said she isn’t surprised that her daughter has taken this venture so far.

“From the time Ella was very little, she was always the kind of kid who was super focused on things,” Meghan said.

Ella said she hopes to continue to take her project even farther, and help as many kids as possible feel less anxious about their medical treatments. “We hope that, one day, every hospital room in the world will have a Medi Teddy,” she said. “Like, you’ll walk into your hospital room and there will be a Medi Teddy hanging from the IV pole.”