Hannah Kiresuk, 20, has endured more than 30 surgeries and 300 days of hospital stays, with her faithful stuffed cow companion, Hammy, always by her side. When Hammy fell out of Hannah’s backpack in downtown Minneapolis in February, it was like losing a member of the family. Though the story of Hammy’s disappearance was shared through local and social media, Hannah and Hammy have yet to be reunited.
Thanks to Children’s Minnesota, Build-A-Bear Workshop and the organization Healing Helpers, Hannah has a new companion, a stuffed bear named Babbs, to accompany her as she continues her treatments for myasthenia gravis, a muscular degenerative disease.
Hannah and her mom, Teri, a nurse practitioner in the employee health services department at Children’s Minnesota, set out to outfit Babbs with the medical equipment that reflected the procedures and treatments Hannah herself has had over the years. With the help of Chris Bailey, RN, and Lori Wenzel, RN, patient care manager for the Children’s Minnesota pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), Hannah and Teri were able to gather many of the pediatric-sized items that Hannah currently has or has used in the past during different procedures. Babbs and the equipment were then sent to Healing Helpers in Idaho, where Babbs underwent major “surgery” to match all of the surgeries that Hannah has undergone, including a fistula placement, eye surgeries, tumor removal and more.
Hannah also has added her own personal touches to Babbs, giving her glasses, oxygen tubing, a trach, gastrostomy-jejunostomy (g-j) tube, blood pressure cuff, heart leads, plasmapheresis line and hospital gown that she made.
Hannah recently brought Babbs on a visit to the Minneapolis PICU to thank the team for their help donating the medical equipment.