Nicholas Sender, 8, has had a mass on his right flank since birth. His parents Heather Layne and Paul Sender knew it was time to have it removed when Nicholas recently started feeling uncomfortable.
When they scheduled the surgery with Pediatric Surgeon Dr. Robert Parry, among the litany of presurgery questions Nicholas was asked was what drawing he would like on his surgical dressing.
“Nicholas and his dad share a love of exotic cars,” said Heather. “So when Dr. Parry asked Nicholas what drawing he would like on his dressing, it was no surprise to me that Nicholas said he wanted a Lamborghini. I think it was a surprise to Dr. Parry, though. He said he’s never had that request before.”
Designs he’s tackled include Mickey Mouse in surgical scrubs, Snoopy, Tom and Jerry, football helmets for most of the college and pro teams, and even a Thanksgiving turkey.
“I can’t even count how many Sponge Bobs I’ve made,” laughed Dr. Parry. “That’s a very popular request. Seriously, my OR staff love it. They can’t wait to bring me my pen set. I must have 30 markers in my kit now.”
He’s an accomplished artist in his own right and looks forward to the more unique requests, just for the challenge of trying something new.
But giving the kids what they want gives him the most pleasure. And his version of a Lamborghini didn’t disappoint.
“Dr. Parry got it spot on,” said Nicholas’ mom, Heather Layne. “It was really ironic and cool that he ended up making it look just like a Lamborghini Hot Wheel Nick has already at home.”
When Nicholas woke up from his surgery, the first thing he searched for was the surgical dressings, so he could see the Lamborghini.
“The drawing made him feel real special and we feel like Dr. Parry went the extra mile by taking all that time to make it for him,” said Heather. “When you are waking up from surgery, it is really awesome to have an amazing drawing like that to help distract his attention from the wound and what’s going on.”
Dr. Robert Parry has been delighting his patients and staff with artistic surgical dressings for the past 20 years.
“There was a pediatric surgeon, Dr. Perry Stafford, when I was training at Bethesda. He used to cut out a shark silhouette in the Telfa dressings, and they were so well received by the patient families,” Dr. Parry said. “I thought that was a great idea, so I started cutting those out for the boys and hearts for the girls. Over the years, it has expanded and now every child that I operate on gets a unique dressing.”
When the patient visits him for the consultation before the surgery, he asks them to think about what type of drawing they would like him to make. Once the surgery is complete, he pulls up the design on his iPad and starts drawing.
“I recently did a Brownie the elf for an infant at the parent’s request,” said Dr. Parry. “Dad loved it so much he didn’t want me to take it off when they came back for their 2-week appointment. He was having a great time showing it to everyone. He asked me to make him a new one, which of course I was happy to do.”