Family creates 'Healing Helpers' dolls to help kids cope with surgery

Family creates 'Healing Helpers' dolls to help kids cope with surgery »Play Video
Photo courtesy: Healing Helpers Web site

COQUILLE, Ore. -- A family in Coquille has turned an unfortunate situation into a positive impact on children all around the world.

Lani-Lee and Michael Almich's daughter Annabelle was born with a congenital heart defect.

Michael says that when they found out, the problem seemed overwhelming. "The doctors just kept listing off all these things that were wrong with her heart," Michael said. "There were like 8 things they listed off, and I can just remember going into another room and just thinking, 'Man, she's gonna die, she's not gonna make it.'"

Despite it all, Annabelle made it.

She had two open heart surgeries by the time she turned 1-year-old.

Lani-Lee told KCBY News that she wanted to do something to help her daughter when she got older. "I wanted to give her something that she could hold on to, and kind of understand why she had these scars down her chest," she said.

So, the Almich family created 'Healing Helpers.'

The concept is simple: stuffed animals that will help sick kids get through surgery.

"She loves it," said Lani-Lee. "She takes it to all her doctor's appointments. It gets pokes before she gets pokes, it gets band aids. It has made such a huge difference."

The Almich family has a patent pending on the little guys, and they've sent about 350 all over the world.

Michael told KCBY News he never thought it would become something so big. "If you had asked me nine months ago, I would have said, "Yea, we'll make a couple and we'll just do this for friends," but it's been awesome," he said. "I never even imagined it would go this far."

Annabelle has one more surgery to go.

There's no doubt her healing helper, 'Abby,' will be right by her side.

Do you know someone with a small child facing surgery? You can get more information about Healing Helpers at their Web site.

Watch the video of Annabelle and her story: