Stitches for Water-filled Syringes

Posted on May 01, 2020

“Are we done? Are we done? And I get to spray?” asks little Blake. 

It’s not an easy task for a 4-year-old to sit still for any given period. It’s especially difficult to be still for 45 minutes while getting 12 chin stitches. 

Blake got a pretty bad boo-boo when he fell while riding his bike. It landed him in the Emergency Center at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. 

“We received excellent care from check-in to triage to the actual stitching of the chin,” says Blake’s mom, Danielle. 

But it was one person who really made the visit one to remember — Jim O’Donnell, a physician assistant. 

“Jim was friendly, and my son immediately seemed at ease around him,” Danielle says. “I could not believe how he allowed Jim to inject the numbing agent because he fights me on bandages!” 

Jim uses words like “water guns” instead of syringe filled with sterile water, and “string” instead of suture.  

“A lot of times when they hear stitches or needle, they freak out,” O’Donnell says. “If you take the time to talk to them and explain and talk it out, I see a lot of kids get less anxious.” 

Blake is particularly anxious about squirts of water coming from a syringe to clear the wound throughout the suture process. But O’Donnell has an idea, one he never thought of before. Reward Blake at the end with his own water-filled syringes to squirt Jim back!  

“Every few minutes, Blake was asking to spray him,” Danielle says. “It was literally what got him through the whole thing.”  

Blake is a champ and finally gets his moment. 

“He let him go at it, and he loved it — it was great,” Danielle says. “Jim helped to make it smooth and even tear-free for Blake.” 

No tears this time — just a lot of water from a couple of syringes!  

“His face lit up and you could see the drastic difference to being so excited to squirt me,” O’Donnell says. “He got me really wet, but it was worth it!” 


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