Kids Becomes Surgeons for a Day

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On Saturday, Nov. 5, the Discovery Center of Idaho was transformed into a makeshift operating room. Children and parents donned scrubs, masks, and rubber gloves and tried their hands as surgeons, performing pumpkin biopsies and peeking into a dummy's esophagus with a medical camera.

"This is called a traumatic grasper," said Dr. Anthony Cvitanich, gesturing to a metal instrument with scissor-like handles. "It has these hooks on the end. ... Anything you grab is coming out."

Cvitanich led children in using a 1080p camera in the belly of a pumpkin as they used the graspers to extract seeds. Across the room, Dr. Don Atkin, director of surgery at St. Luke's hospital in Meridian, led a similar demonstration with candy inside a mock chest cavity.

According to the doctors and nurses on hand, the event is all about demystifying the hospital. Parents and children alike might see a table full of stainless steel instruments and get the creeps. Dr. Bill Pearson, a certified surgical technologist, compared the drills, hammers and scissors used in a hospital to more common household tools.

"When you come to the operating room, you don't see faces," said Dr. Pearson of St. Luke's. "The goal is to familiarize them with the things that happen in the operating room so there's less anxiety."

With an IV station, a bones and prosthetics exhibit, and even an interactive surgery game, the kids gleefully dove into an ordinarily "Ick!"-inducing subject.