When Gaby Zane was faced with her 5th grade science project assignment she tapped into what she knows best… stuffed animals and kids.

As the daughter of two doctors, Gaby thought about what kids must go through when they are in the hospital. In an interview with 9News (Denver, CO) she explained, “Kids probably get stressed that they’re going to have to go through an operation. Stuffed animals really help with staying calm, but they can carry lots of bacteria into the operating room. I thought ‘why not just wash them?’”

635719684759083571-IMG-6457Along with the help of her parents, Gaby then set up a mini-lab in her family’s basement and went to work studying the bacteria on the dolls. Using her own stuffed animals, Gaby swabbed the dolls to determine how much bacteria they were carrying, and then washed and dried them, then repeating the swab test again.

“They had a lot of bacteria,” Gaby said. “When we washed them, they had a 94 percent decrease in bacteria. Put them in a sealed plastic bag before you get to the operating room to make sure they stay sterile, and you’ll be OK.”

Bingo! A simple solution with major impact for a potentially dangerous situation. And now, because of Gaby’s science project, kids are able to bring their stuffed animals into the O.R. for comfort, minus the health risk.

Gaby’s mom, Dr. Murphy-Zane, knows first-hand the importance of minimizing surgical-site infections, which is something she’s been working on at her hospital.

Following the success of Gaby’s project, and with further testing done in a medical lab confirming Gaby’s findings, Dr. Murphy-Zane along with some of her colleagues wrote the paper “Stuffed Animals in the Operating Room: A Reservoir of Bacteria With a Simple Solution,” which was recently published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics.

That’s how it’s done, just #LikeAGirl!

Lead image photo credit: Kyle Dyer