February 13, 2016 12:42 am
Updated: February 13, 2016 2:08 pm

Stollery Children’s Hospital staff make surgery an unforgettable experience for Edmonton boy with autism

WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton boy who lives with autism presented the staff at the Stollery Children’s Hospital with a special thank you gift after they made arrangements to allow his companion dog into the operating room with him during surgery. As Shallima Maharaj reports, the boy’s family was overjoyed by their compassion.


EDMONTON — An Edmonton mother is praising the staff at the Stollery Children’s Hospital for helping make her son’s surgery a more comfortable experience.

Sheryl Modin’s 14-year-old son, Conner Modin, lives with autism. Sheryl said the staff at the Stollery went out of their way to make arrangements so Conner’s companion dog, Tulsa, would be able to come into the operating room with him during a recent dental surgery if he needed her.

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“They totally thought outside the box, went outside the whole scheme, and got her in,” she said.

Sheryl said having Tulsa in the operating room would have really helped calm Conner’s nerves, as he can become quite anxious before surgery. As it turns out, Conner didn’t need Tulsa, as he went in on his own. But for Sheryl, the gesture was incredible.

“Tulsa does a lot for Conner,” she said. “He’s a wanderer so she helps keep him more focused and prevents him from wandering off.

“They have a lot of communication that goes on that we don’t even see so you could just see the, ‘sigh, she’s here.'”

Tulsa was waiting for Conner as soon as he came out of surgery. He said it was really great to see her because she helps him through so many things.

“It made me feel pretty good,” he said. “She helps me.”

Allowing companion or service animals into the operating room is not something the hospital does on a regular basis. Heather McCrady, the manager of the Family Care Centre, said staff members have been doing great work when it comes to helping kids with autism cope with surgical procedures.

“Recovery can be very unsettling, when you wake up you’re confused and anything familiar isn’t anywhere close, so having Tulsa with him was a huge support,” McCrady said.

“It’s quite rewarding for them to see their practices changing. And they loved seeing the dog,” she added with a laugh.

As a way to express his gratitude, Conner presented the staff at the Stollery with a piece of artwork he created. Sheryl said it was their way of saying thank you.

“It’s something just from our hearts to them because they gave so much to our family.”

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