Pretty much the only thing Christina Potts Whipkey remembers about her daughter’s surgery nine years ago is the butterfly.
The black and white insect, complete with hearts on its wings, was hand-drawn on the bandage 7-year-old Kennedy got after hernia surgery at Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio.
The artwork and medical procedure were done by Dr. Robert Parry, a self-taught artist who creates original illustrations on bandages to amuse patients and relive tension after their procedures.
“There is an incredible amount of stress any time a child is ill,” Whipkey told CNN. “When there is a surgical schedule, parents work hard to hide their fear of the procedure, the financial stress of the situation, and their terror of something going wrong.
“The doctor told Kennedy and her siblings she would have a lovely butterfly after she was done. When Kennedy came out, everyone was excited to see what the doctor meant. Kennedy was so proud of the pretty bandage and not concerned about any scars.”
Parry’s illustrations were spotlighted this month in a hospital roundup of its top 10 moments of the decade. A photo of Parry making an illustration also was posted on a Reddit forum, where it shot to the top of its front page Friday.
Parry has been at the hospital since 2011 and has performed more than 10,000 surgeries, according to a hospital profile from 2017.
Disney characters and sports team logos are the most popular request Parry gets, he told CNN over email. He once got a pun-inspired request, for which he made a French salad “dressing” bottle.
Each illustration takes roughly five minutes to do, Parry said.
“It’s been a pretty special thing, for everyone. It’s fun for me to do, the parents and the children really enjoy it and even the whole medical staff likes to get in on it,” he told CNN. “Whenever one of my kids arrive in the recovery room, the nurses all like to take a look to see what dressing the child got. I think it just makes everyone, me included, feel good.”
This special touch following surgery was something Samantha Manning witnessed in 2014, when she brought her 11-month-old daughter, Rose, to the hospital after diagnosis of a liver disease that typically requires a transplant.
Parry was among the doctors who operated on Rose, for whom he drew a rose garden.
“We had no idea ahead of time that this was Dr. Parry’s special trademark,” Manning recalled. “We were really moved by it. The rose garden was symbolic of our larger experience with Dr. Parry and the hospital overall, taking the extra step to do those small, little gestures. It shows how much they care and really lifted our spirits.”
Watch a video of Parry creating his illustrations: