Wish upon a… scrub? 

07/10/2016 00:00 
A trip to Disneyland? Meet a pop band? Perform general surgery? Five-year-old Daniela Stala from Bradford, West Yorkshire, surprised everyone with her greatest wish – to spend a day as a surgeon.
Dr Stala performs a 'sugar-cube-ectomy'  

Daniela was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in June and, having undergone numerous surgeries, it would be understandable if she’d had her fill of hospitals. Quite the opposite. The Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted UCLH to see if we could work our magic. The uclh institute’s Simulation and Clinical Skills Team and the Play Specialist Team worked together to arrange for Daniela to ‘perform’ laparoscopic surgery supported by a team, including Dr Ruth Hurley, consultant anaesthetist and Rosario Pongan, senior anaesthetic practitioner.

Clinton John, simulation and clinical skills centre manager, said: “It was a very unusual request and we wanted to make it a reality.”

Daniela’s training with Clinton started in the Institute Education Centre’s Minimal Access and Robotic Surgery Centre. The first exercise was basic laparoscopic skills (moving sugar cubes from one pot to another), swiftly followed by open basic surgical skills where Daniela used real surgical instruments to manipulate beads around a board. The final session saw Daniela surgically remove a drawn on face from a water-filled glove. All are genuine exercises used in the training of junior surgeons at UCLH.

With the skills training complete, Daniela conducted a pre-operative ward round with Dr Ruth Hurley. She consented her patient for a ‘sugar-cube-ectomy’ and later in theatre laparoscopically removed two sugar cubes.

Daniela said her favourite part of the day was the surgery itself which was fully endorsed by the supporting anaesthetist: “It was a smooth procedure which Dr Stala performed expertly, and the patient is recovering well,” said Dr Hurley.

Daniela’s mother, Aiva, said that at home she and her husband are always being asked by their daughter to be her patients. “She never wants to operate on her toys. We always end up on Daniela’s theatre table so it was good to have a day off!”

Following a successful operation, Dr Stala thanked her theatre team, scrubbed and set off for a well-deserved afternoon at the Disney Café.

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