Upstate News

June 11, 2000
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

University Hospital offers Jester and Pharley dolls to kids with cancer. Dolls help keep children still during spinal taps and other procedures.

Newly diagnosed children with cancer who are treated at University Hospital will receive a Jester & Pharley doll to help them through often painful procedures, such as spinal taps or bone marrow aspirations.

As a leading institute in the fight against childhood cancers and a member of the prestigious Pediatric Oncology Group, University Hospital has received 60 Jester & Pharley dolls as part of a donation from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

University Hospital’s Center for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders is the only center of its kind in the 20-county region that extends from the Canadian border to northern Pennsylvania. Each year more than 700 children with various malignancies and blood disorders are treated at the center.

The Jester doll, the title character of the children’s book “The Jester Has Lost His Jingle,” has bells that jingle when the doll moves. To distract them during difficult procedures, children hold the doll and focus on keeping still so the bells do not jingle.

“The beauty of the doll is that it has a dual purpose,” said Samantha Leone, a child life specialist at University Hospital. “Not only does it help children to remain still during procedures, it also reminds them of the importance of laughter and love.”

In the book, the Jester awakes one morning to discover that the world has lost its laughter, and sets off with Pharley, his helpmate, to discover where laughter might be hiding.

“The Jester Has Lost His Jingle” was written by David Saltzman, a student at Yale University who was being treated for Hodgkin’s disease. He died 11 days before his 23rd birthday. The soft colorful Jester doll was created at the request of children and parents.

“By donating 24,000 Jester dolls to pediatric oncology centers, we hope to provide encouragement, joy and strength to children fighting cancer,” said Rick Winningham, president of Bristol-Myers Squibb Oncology. “It is our goal to provide the dolls to all pediatric patients diagnosed with cancer to help them stay positive and remember the importance of laughter. We feel that treating the emotional needs of all cancer patients, especially children is as important as fighting the disease.”

In addition to the dolls, the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation is also donating to University Hospital copies of “The Jester Has Lost His Jingle” book.

University Hospital is the teaching hospital of the State University of New York Upstate Medical University (formerly known as SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse) and is a major provider of health care in the area, with more than 14,000 patient admissions annually.

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