A local doctor, who is halfway through her cardiac surgical residency, is using her artistic side to help young cardiac surgery patients.

At one time, Dr. Michiko Maruyama thought her artistic side would lead her into a career in industrial engineering; she was interested in designing toys and children’s furniture.

That all changed when she was diagnosed with cancer. Her time at the hospital during treatment changed her mind, and her focus turned to medicine.

These days, she is a doctor and working on her cardiac surgery residency – but she never gave up drawing, and in med school she created daily doodles to represent what she learned.

Now, those drawings are being used to educate others. She’s created a line of paper toys for young cardiac patients.

“You can cut it out and then assemble it together and then you can open up the chest and look at the heart,” Maruyama said.

She’s received a grant to make the toys.

“If they’re timid or scared, it’s easier to have a conversation around…something you can play with,” Maruyama said.

‘Zeddy the Teddy’ also comes with accessories to help illustrate what a young patient could experience in hospital.

“There are different accessories that come with it that can help each child throughout the whole hospital stay,” Maruyama said.

She also created a two-dimensional heart, to help teach the young patients about the organ.

“To introduce them to new terminology that they’ll be hearing every day,” she said. “The main goal of this is to teach and educate through a creative and innovative process.”

In the fall, the paper toys will be available at the Mazankowski Heart Institute, but Dr. Maruyama said she hopes they will soon be available across Canada, and eventually internationally.

The toys can be printed for free from her website, along with her doodles, which are also online and free to use.

“I welcome people to use them,” Maruyama said. “If they want to use them in Power Point presentations, the only thing I ask is that for them to just kind of use my name or the website so that other people can go and look at it.”

In the future, she hopes to create three-dimensional toys for patients, and find other ways to help med students learn in the future.

With files from Amanda Anderson