The Story of The Cardiac Bear
From 1996 to 2011 I owned a small gift basket company in Springfield, Ohio called Gourmet Gift Baskets. One of our largest clients was a hospital in Columbus, Ohio and they had been ordering huge weekly baby gift baskets for their new moms. They were undergoing renovations on the birthing units with lots of noise and hammering, drilling, sawing and much inconvenience. Because of this, they decided to thank each new mom with a gift basket for choosing to come to their hospital when they knew they didn’t have to! The basket had, among many other special items, a teddy bear!
Since I obviously had sources of teddy bear companies, they thought maybe I could help them find what they needed. They wanted a specific type of bear that they could give to their patients after having had open heart surgery. They explained how it would be used and why it was needed. Well, this was really a huge client of ours, (they birth 700 babies a year!) so I knew that this could be a really big order if I could find them what they were looking for!
After a few months of searching, it was apparent that no such bear existed that met their specific standards for heart patients. I had all but given up until, one night when my husband and I were on our Friday night “date night” and I brought up the subject of this possible hospital order. I told Bill that I sure wish I could have found them a bear that was right for them. He said, well, there’s got to be trade shows that would have something like this right? Let’s look online when we get home and see what we can find.
When we got home, I went online to take a look. “Hey Bill!” I said, “Would you like to go to New York? Tomorrow?!” “What????” he said. I told him that there just happens to be the largest toy trade show in the western hemisphere starting tomorrow in New York city! So, we got plane tickets and started packing! Off to the Javits Center we went! We separated from each other and squeezed and squished every single bear we could find over hundreds of vendors and came to realize that we there was nothing there that was going to work. Then, by the grace of God, we hit just the right vendor who wanted to help after explaining why we needed to be so picky. He said, “Well, you need to go to the floor above us where there are manufacturers that will make you EXACTLY what you need!” Bingo!!! Bless his heart that he was willing to help even though he knew he would get nothing tangible from it!
So, after talking with several manufacturers “upstairs”, we settled on 6 that we wanted to consider working with for prototypes. Upon multiple discussions, prototypes etc. about the firmness, size and everything else needed with hospital surgeons, cardiovascular intensive care unit nurse managers we settled on what we now have as The Cardiac Bear.
After seeing how much this client and their patients loved The Cardiac Bear, our company Xpand Your Brand, Ltd. chose to make it available to other hospitals and patients across the nation and now, worldwide. It gives us great pleasure to be able to help so many people when they are in the midst of knowing they must undergo a major surgery such as open heart surgery. Some family members purchase our bear for other surgeries as well, like breast cancer surgery, bariatric surgery and cesarean sections.
We also now have an antimicrobial version of The Cardiac Bear that’s even a step up from our Original Cardiac Bear! Our antimicrobial cardiac bear looks and feels exactly the same as the original bear. It has a special patented solution applied to the surface of the bear that keeps bacteria from attaching itself to the bear and will help prevent possible infections to the incision area if the bear should fall on the floor or come into contact with bacteria from someone else holding it.
Just in 2017 we have designed a brand new product called the Heart 2 Heart Pillow! It serves the same purpose as our Cardiac Bear, only it is made of a soft luxury vinyl so it is waterproof and can be wiped down multiple times with antibacterial wipes so that if it should fall on the floor of the hospital in a patients room, any possible bacteria that is on the floor can be eliminated with the hospital wipes! This came about because of Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts. They wanted to take our Cardiac Bear to a new level and requested that we design for them a soft luxury vinyl heart shaped pillow that is waterproof and can be repeatedly be wiped down with sani-wipes. This pillow has made their infection control department even more comfortable in giving this to their clients since it has no “nap” at all like the bear does. This was the beginning of our Heart 2 Heart pillow!
If you work at a hospital and would like us to send you a free bear to show your team, or wish to discuss a style of pillow that you would like custom made, give us a call at 866-941-2480 and we will be glad to work with you and see how we can be of help. When shipping these to hospitals, we give you bulk quantity pricing and we will put your hospital logo and/or an anatomical heart imprint on the pillow so that the surgeon can show his/her patients exactly what they did and where.
It’s scary enough to hear from the cardiologist that you need to have open heart surgery, and sometimes immediately! Because of our work in designing The Cardiac Bear, we know that we can at least help reduce some of the pain after their surgery and that just makes our day!