If you don’t have a child under the age of ten, you probably haven’t heard of Doc McStuffins, the incredibly cute children’s animated series created by Chris Nee about six-year-old Dottie “Doc” McStuffins who is a gifted ‘fixer’ of stuffed toys.
Following in the footsteps of her mother who is a doctor, Doc is like a physician for the community of stuffed toys around her. In an episode entitled “Selfless Snowman,” that airs on Friday at 8.00am ET/PT on the Disney Channel, she announces that Pickles the purple rabbit has stuffing-nemea and is in need of stuffing from a donor with matching stuffing-DNA.
“We really wanted to do an episode that highlighted the idea of a blood drive,” Chris Nee tells Connectwithlife.com. “The key is the moment when somebody goes ‘oh my god, somebody’s low on stuffing and we need to have a stuffing drive.’”
A lot of adults can relate to the feeling of anxiety that comes with the thought of donating blood, or needing blood. It’s a delicate topic but Nee, who receives medical approval before and after writing her episodes, chose to show children the reality more than a sugar coated version of what it means to be giving with your own flesh and blood. “We wanted to address the fact that if you’re donating blood or signing up for Be The Match, you’re often a little nervous about it and we wanted a character that was afraid and then at the end of the day the larger need outweighs,” says Nee. “Kids are scared. Adults are scared too! Medical stuff is scary! We wanted to address it. We’re not saying shots don’t hurt, we’re not saying that taking off a bandaid doesn’t sting for a second, but it’s important on another level and we always try to give that message.”
The concept of giving to those around you is also most important to Nee, who believes that if our kids grow up with concept of enriching their communities at the forefront of their minds, the world will look a lot brighter and future generations will be grateful. “One of the things I was always trying to do with Doc was create a cast of characters that felt like a community where they were taking care of each other,” says Nee. “If you look at the very heart of what I want this show to leave people with it’s that ‘you’re not just in it for yourself, you’re trying to take care of this larger community.’ For me, this is a piece of that.” Watch a clip from the episode below:
This story is close to Nee’s heart for one other reason. “Recently my wife was diagnosed with a rare bone marrow failure disorder and has been transfusion dependent for about two months,” says Nee. “For me, it was a moment of; you are sitting there completely dependent on these strangers who made it a part of their life and their routine to go donate platelets or blood. We already had the episode, so I’m thrilled for that in terms of the world of karma.”
The message from Nee to moms and dads is simple: “Give blood, because karmically you’d want to have given blood. I was very glad that I had long ago signed up for Be The Match in terms of karma.”
And what exactly is Be The Match? “It’s the national registry for bone marrow donation,” says Nee. “Seventy percent of patients who need a bone marrow transplant do not match someone in their family. The only way Be the Match works is by reaching critical mass. The thing about the registry is when you sign up, it’s just a cheek swab, that’s all you’re doing. They will send the packet to you, you get a cheek swab, you send it back in and you always have a choice whether to go ahead or not with actually donating bone marrow.”
Luckily Nee’s wife found a match in her sister. But that is rare, and both Nee and her wife strongly support Be The Match, as a service that can really save lives. “My wife is doing better,” says Nee. “We’re hoping to avoid a bone marrow transplant, but it’s all set up at this point if she needs it.”
After watching this adorable episode, Nee hopes that parents will sit with their kids and discuss the subject matter in an open and honest way. “That would be a cool thing to do because at this age, kids can’t donate,” says Nee. “But I think it’s great to set kids up at an early age to give back, take care of their community and learn what it is to be selfless and brave. A lot of platelet and blood donations actually happen in college – there’s something about the routine of colleges that they’re interested to make it a regular part of their life. College-age kids are not watching our show but that’s not far off from where we’re at. It’s the idea of putting it into the world now, it feels like it could have a payoff.”