A 5th-grader made a discovery about stuffed animals and germs. It landed her in a medical journal.

Kids are the best.

Gaby Zane isn't your average fifth-grader, and there are a lot of doctors who would agree.

Why? It all started with a science project that was influenced by her favorite stuffed animal, Sheena.


Gaby with her stuffed cat, Sheena. Hi, Sheena. Image via 9News.

Gaby's parents are both doctors. So when it came time for her fifth-grade science project, she got to thinking about what happens when kids end up in the hospital.

How could she help those kids?

"Kids probably get stressed that they're going to have to go through an operation," Gaby told Kyle Dyer of 9News. "Stuffed animals really help with staying calm, but they can carry lots of bacteria into the operating room."

Comforting and cute animals full of icky germs? Cue the light-bulb moment!

Gaby came up with a way to make operating rooms more sterile, especially for kids.

She grabbed some stuffed animals in her own home and discovered just how many germs they had by rubbing sterile swabs on them and taking culture samples.

"They had a lot of bacteria," she told 9News.

Cute on the outside, and also filthy on the outside. Image via 9News.

So ... she washed them. And it turns out that if you wash and dry your stuffed animals, you can prevent germs from spreading.

"When we washed them, they had a 94 percent decrease in bacteria," said Gaby. "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."

A 94% decrease is huge!

If Gaby's solution sounds simple, that's because it is.

But for people with already weakened immune systems, think of how big of an impact her discovery could make.

Gaby's mom, Dr. Murphy-Zane, loved the idea. It was right in line with what her hospital had been trying to do, too: minimize surgical-site infections.

"The push is on to decrease the bacterial load for the operating room ... not just people scrubbing in or wearing booties on their feet," Dr. Murphy-Zane told 9News. "We're trying to minimize traffic coming in and out of the O.R. and minimize materials coming into the room."

But because of Gaby's research, kids can now bring their stuffed animals into the O.R., too, without bringing germs along with them and risking their health.

This is a solid example of how simple ideas can go far.

Gaby's idea just keeps growing.

According to Bustle, her science project can now be found in 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. It's co-authored by Gaby, her mom, and some of her mom's colleagues. So cool.

Getting a scientific study published is no easy task. But Gaby, who is now 12, can mark it off her to-do list.

Now, excuse me while I go wash all of my things.

Bravo, Gaby! Bravo.

More
LUSH

Handmade cosmetics company Lush is putting its money where its mouth is and taking a bold step for climate change action.

On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

Keep Reading Show less
Planet
Photo by Annie Bolin on Unsplash

Recent tragic mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have sparked a lot of conversation and action on the state level over the issue of gun control. But none may be as encouraging as the most recent one, in which 145 CEOs signed a letter urging the U.S. Senate to take action at their level.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The fine folks at Forbes are currently falling all over themselves trying to clean up the mess they created by publishing their 2019 list of 100 Most Innovative Leaders.

The problem: The list included 99 men and one woman. For those not so good with the math, that means according to Forbes, only 1% of the country's most innovative leaders are female.

Have you ever watched a movie that's so abysmally bad that you wonder how it ever even got made? Where you think, "Hundreds and hundreds of people had to have been directly involved in the production of this film. Did any of them ever think to say, 'Hey, maybe we should just scrap this idea altogether?"

That's how it feels to see a list like this. So how did Forbes come up with these results?

Keep Reading Show less
Innovation

There's something delicious and addicting about those trendy recipe videos circulating online. You've seen them before: the quick and beautiful play-by-plays of mouthwatering dishes you wish you were eating at this very moment.

The recipes seem so simple and magical and get you thinking, "Maybe I can make that five-cheese bacon lasagna tonight." And before you know it, you're at the store loading up on Colby-Monterey Jack (or is that just me?).

For some families, though, the ingredients and final product look a little different. As part of Hunger Action Month, the hunger-relief organization Feeding America is using our obsession with cooking videos to highlight the reality many food-insecure families face when they sit down for dinner: hunger, and no food in sight.

By putting a twist on the bite-sized food videos all over the internet, they hope to raise awareness that hunger is an unacceptable reality for too many families.

Keep Reading Show less
Family
True
Gates Foundation: The Story of Food