My Special Aflac Duck helps comfort young sickle cell patients managing their disease

Children's Regional Hospital at Cooper in Camden receives award-winning social robot thanks to new collaboration with Aflac

Several young patients being treated for sickle cell disease at Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper received a cuddly new companion specially designed to help them through their medical journey.

A duck delivery and unboxing event celebrated the new collaboration between Cooper and insurance company Aflac to provide a My Special Aflac Duck free of charge to all pediatric sickle cell patients ages 3 and above who are undergoing treatment.

My Special Aflac Duck is a social robot that offers a sense of comfort, joy and control to children undergoing cancer treatment and children living with sickle cell disease. In consultation with more than 100 children, families and medical professionals, Aflac, along with Sproutel, a patient-centered research and development company in Providence, Rhode Island, debuted My Special Aflac Duck in 2018 as part of its 26-year, $159 million-plus commitment to childhood cancer and blood disorders, including sickle cell disease.

Since then, Aflac has donated and distributed more than 15,000 My Special Aflac Ducks to more than 300 hospitals and disease-focused organizations.

In early 2022, Aflac introduced a new-generation My Special Aflac Duck, with features and play accessories designed specifically for sickle cell patients. In 2018, My Special Aflac Duck was named one of the Best 50 Inventions of the year by Time magazine, received the People’s Choice Award at SXSW and Best in Show at CES.

“Every year, nearly 200 children receive care through Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper’s sickle cell program. We know that doctor visits and hospitalizations can be overwhelming for these children,” Dr. Michael Goodman, chair and chief of pediatrics at Cooper, and professor of pediatrics at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, said. “These specially designed interactive ducks will be calming companions and enhance the overall experience of our young patients.”

“On behalf of the Cooper Foundation, we commend Aflac for their commitment to children’s health by making My Special Aflac Duck available to young sickle cell patients free of charge. The benefits of Aflac’s corporate generosity to our patients and their families will be immeasurable,” Robert Ortiz, senior vice president and chief philanthropy officer of the Cooper Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Cooper University Health Care, said.