Duck Delivery: Young sickle cell disease patients at Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper receive award-winning social robot thanks to new collaboration with Aflac

My Special Aflac Duck® helps comfort young patients managing their disease

Cooper University Health Care and both local and national Aflac representatives surround four year old Tristan Cruz, his family, and his new My Special Aflac Duck.

Cooper University Health Care team members and both local and national Aflac representatives surround four-year-old Tristan Cruz, his family, and his new My Special Aflac Duck.

CAMDEN, NJ, April 29, 2022 – Today, 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 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.

Four-year-old Eva Dey gives her My Special Aflac Duck a check-up.

Four-year-old Eva Dey gives her My Special Aflac Duck a check-up.

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-plus million 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,” said Michael H. Goodman, MD, MMM, FAAP, FAES, chair and chief of pediatrics at Cooper, and professor of pediatrics at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. “These specially designed interactive ducks will be calming companions and enhance the overall experience of our young patients.”

Four-year-old Tristan Cruz and his family unbox his new My Special Aflac Duck.

Four-year-old Tristan Cruz and his family unbox his new My Special Aflac Duck.

“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,” said Robert Ortiz, JD, senior vice president and chief philanthropy officer of The Cooper Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Cooper University Health Care.

“Sickle cell is an underfunded, often painful disease that impacts 100,000 Americans, including 1 in 365 Black children born every year. We are pleased to work with Children’s Regional Hospital and The Cooper Foundation to ensure that children facing sickle cell disease receive their very own My Special Aflac Duck, which, through medical play, helps deliver comfort to children and their families during difficult times,” said Aflac Southern New Jersey Regional Sales Coordinator Michael DeSarno.

About Cooper University Health Care

Cooper University Health Care is a leading academic health system and the only state-designated Level 1 Trauma Center in South Jersey with more than 8,500 team members and 850 employed physicians. Cooper’s mission is to serve, to heal, to educate.  Annually, nearly two million patients are served at Cooper’s 635-bed flagship hospital, outpatient surgery center, three urgent care centers, and more than 105 ambulatory offices throughout the community.

The Cooper Health Sciences campus is home to Cooper University Hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper, and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. For more information, visit

About Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper

The Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper is committed to excellence in education, research, and high-quality, safe care for pediatric patients from birth to age 18 as well as their families. As the only state-designated acute-care children’s hospital in South Jersey, Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper provides exceptional pediatric primary care and comprehensive inpatient and outpatient specialty care services for every patient, every day, in a patient- and family-centered environment.

About Aflac Incorporated

Aflac Incorporated (NYSE: AFL) is a Fortune 500 company helping provide protection to more than 50 million people through its subsidiaries in Japan and the U.S., where it is a leading supplemental insurer, by paying cash fast when policyholders get sick or injured. For more than six decades, insurance policies of Aflac Incorporated’s subsidiaries have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. Aflac Life Insurance Japan is the leading provider of medical and cancer insurance in Japan where it insures 1 in 4 households. In 2021, the company was included in the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index and became a signatory of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). In 2022, Aflac Incorporated was included on Ethisphere’s list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the 16th consecutive year, Fortune’s list of World’s Most Admired Companies for the 21st time and Bloomberg’s Gender-Equality Index for the third consecutive year. To find out how to get help with expenses health insurance doesn’t cover, get to know us at orñol. Investors may learn more about Aflac Incorporated and its commitment to ESG and social responsibility at under “Sustainability.”

Four year old Eva Dey plays with her My Special Aflac Duck, who she has named Larry.

Four-year-old Eva Dey plays with her My Special Aflac Duck, whom she has named Larry.


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