Do you know a stuffed sheep or giraffe that could desperately use a leg up?
A new program is giving stuffed toys another chance to bring joy and love to someone special. Old toys are repaired and given new parts using donor limbs from well-loved toys that are no longer played with. This unique up-cycling is all done by mail and gives these special animals a new lease on life while teaching kids about a really important topic.
Japanese designers Akira Suzuki and Togo Kida, the founders of Second Life Toys, have fond memories of repairing their own torn or broken toys as kids, using parts from other stuffed animals — much like how organ transplants help save people.
“What we tried was more than fixing a toy that was broken, it was actually trying to fix something in an even better way. ” Togo wrote in an email. “This, we thought, might be a good way to convey organ transplant in a positive way.”
The hope is that by teaching children the benefits of organ donation, they can start to break down the barriers that surround transplants, especially in Japan, by playing up the positive results.
First, the process begins with a torn or broken stuffed animal, and a donor toy (perhaps a toy that, while loved, doesn’t get played with much anymore) The donor toy will give a limb to the original toy. Finally, the repaired toy is sent back to its owner. And then children are asked to reflect on how the transplant improved their stuffed animal’s life.
Once their stuffed animal is out of recovery, the toy’s child caretaker also gets to send a thank-you note to the donors.
It’s a full-circle experience that introduces the concept of organ donation in an accessible and relatable way.
Hopefully, this makes the idea of organ transplants less scary to children, helping to reduce the stigma that surrounds the concept as they grow older.