Surgery Doll: Erwin the Little Patient

Three photos shownig the Erwin doll wearing a hospital gown, with the gown pulled up, and with his chest zipper unfurled revaling his organs.

Behold Erwin the little patient from Sigikid. He’s a plush doll with a crooked smile and take-out organs. Measuring in at 16-inch (41cm) and machine washable, Erwin hides his special nature under a hospital patient gown. Lift up the gown to see Erwin’s nippleless rectangular torso.

Unzip his chest cavity to find six removable plush objects: lungs, a heart (Valentine shaped), intestines, liver, spleen and kidneys. The six count is a little deceptive because the kidneys include an attached bladder and the intestinal piece contains both small and large intestine and also the stomach and esophagus.

Oh, and my wife, who is a nurse, doesn’t know a cecum from a hole in the ground. Yep, I correctly identified the brown nodule on the lower intestine as the appendix.

Each organ is a different, unrealistic and cheery color. The organs also have one, sometimes two, color-coded Velcro strips that indicate to which other organs they connect. Underneath it all, a posterior skeleton is embroidered on the inside back of Erwin’s interior.

Photo of Erwin with his guts set aside outside his body.

Connecting the body parts is probably a tall order for kids under 5-years-old, but parents who buy the doll are likely to do so as a teaching tool. Parental assistance will be involved when all the king’s horses and all the king’s men put poor little Erwin back together again.

My almost 2-year-old son is happy to carry Erwin around, not yet realizing there is a zipper underneath the gown. My 5-year-old daughter loves the inside of the doll.

Age appropriateness is difficult to gauge. In addition to the Velcro assembly, there’s also the issue of squeamishness to consider.

My then-3-year-old daughter loved her Your Body anatomically correct multi-layer body puzzle, but when she brought the puzzle to a 3-year-old friend’s home, the friend was freaked out and scared.

It really depends on how proactive you’ve been as a parent to explain the human body. By 3-years-old we had read to her the Me and My Amazing Body picture book. Our journey began at 16-months-old when I explained Halloween-themed skeleton displays we saw in stores.

In any case, Erwin might as well be Erwina because the body is genderless with no reproductive organs and the doll’s hair style could best be described as a disheveled Tribble, or perhaps troll doll.

My daughter’s only criticism is that the doll has a crooked smile. My only criticism is that the hospital gown is secured by ties rather than Velcro. My wife’s only criticism is that esophagus gets incorrectly placed in front of the trachea. I think she’s overcompensating for the cecum slip.

Now, here is a bit of bad news. The doll doesn’t appear to be sold in America. I purchased it via German Amazon, and while will ship to America, it specifically won’t ship this doll to America. That’s right. I have illicitly circumvented international trade restrictions to obtain a children’s surgical doll plaything.

Photo of Erwin in his product box, with a clear window showing Erwin lying down at an incline.

Actually, it was my wife who befriended a German exchange student in high school and later reconnected with her long lost friend via Facebook and convinced him to ship Erwin to us. That’s right. Another Facebook miracle!

Erwin retails for 27 Euro. Repackage him with a German dubbed copy of the French film Le Premier Cri and stuff the empty spots with Kinder Eggs and you can ship the whole thing at the most economical rate of 14 Euro and receive Erwin just six weeks later!

Included with Erwin is a booklet containing color photos of each plush organ segment along with rhymes in German that help you memorize what each organ connects to.

Das ist das herz. Fühlt Freude und Schmerz, pumpt gleichzeitig Blut und alles wird gut.

Ach so! This is the heart. It feel pleasure and pain, while blood is pumping and everything will be alright. Or at least that’s what Google Translate tells me. I’m sorry Herr Westrup, I didn’t pay attention in class.

Tangent: The friend recently posted his first comment on Thingamababy, weighing in on the au gratin issue sharing a European perspective. I forgot that nude beaches aren’t that big a deal in Europe. We’re talking about a region where Renaissance art was born while in America we hide nude statues behind curtains.

In any case, my best guess on why Erwin cannot be shipped to America is that Sigikid has an American distributor and maybe distributors don’t like the nature of borderless commerce. But I haven’t found the doll being sold anywhere in America. I have an e-mail in to the distributor to find out if I totally wasted my money shipping the doll from Germany.

Wasted? No way! My daughter thought she was playing doctor, but I totally saw Dana Scully doing an autopsy in my living room!

Photo of my daughter in a doctor's outfit complete with face mask taking a toddler dinner knife to pretend cut open the doll's chest.

Step 1: make the incision with your kitchen playset dinner knife. The metal plate is for storing removed organs.

Photo of my daughter sticking a plastic syringe in the doll's leg while the chest cavity is completely open.

Step 2: Inject the anesthesia so the patient doesn't feel anything. Apparently slicing into a chest doesn't cause pain, but pulling out organs does.

Photo of my daughter beginning to pull on the intestines using a toy clamp and a dental mirror.

Today we are performing a complete extraction of a gastrointestinal tract -- the first in history! There's no word yet on how the patient will be absorbing nutrients in the future.

Photo of the intestines being pulled out more.

The patient remains conscious during the surgery.

Photo of my daughter pulling the intestines into the air while intently examining them.

Grandma bought the doctor/nurse outfit at a toy store closing sale. An advantage of having a petite kid is that she takes forever to outgrow clothes.

Photo of my daughter removing the last of the intestines which also include the stomach and esophogus connected as a single piece.

While I'm in here I'm going to go ahead and remove your stomach and esophagus.

Photo of my daughter examining the intestines after they're extracted and sitting on the table.

I love the intent look on her face. She didn't say a word the entire time.

Close-up photo of my daughter looking inside Erwin's chest cavity.

All of these organs stick to each other via strategically placed Velcro strips. The orange patient wrist band isn't included with the doll. My daughter made it with construction paper and tape. Aside from cardboard boxes, my daughter's favorite toys are pen, paper, scissors and tape. She's sporting a real stethoscope around her neck, found at a science teacher's retirement sale. Best 50 cents I ever spent.

Update: Thinga-reader Bryany found Erwin for sale at a UK shop that will ship to America.


15 Responses to “Surgery Doll: Erwin the Little Patient”

  1. kelly says:

    i would love it if my daughter grew up to be dana scully; just hearing that music in my now. . .da da da dum. . .

    January 19th, 2010 at 6:59 am

  2. LooneyJen says:

    OK, you had me completely excited at the start of this post. A surgery doll! For my anatomy obsessed 4 year old! Woot!

    And then? Then you broke my heart. Germany, bah.

    But you won me over again with the Scully reference. Well played.

    (The pics are GREAT! She is totally into what’s she’s doing.)

    January 19th, 2010 at 7:53 am

  3. Judy B says:

    Where do you find these crazy dolls?! :)

    January 19th, 2010 at 8:09 am

  4. AJ says:

    Judy, first have a spouse intent on buying a birth documentary not sold in the US, then figure a way to buy the DVD from an overseas retailer, and last, check out the toys the retailer sells.

    I spent an hour clicking through’s toy categories looking at the photos and getting rough translations from Google.

    January 19th, 2010 at 8:23 am

  5. Gina says:

    Those pics are great! I want an Erwin!!! Too bad we cant get them here in the US =(

    January 19th, 2010 at 10:12 am

  6. Phil Haussler says:

    Love the surgery pictures! This doctor has a bright future. But… did the patient survive such a major surgery??


    January 19th, 2010 at 10:31 am

  7. Kelly says:

    Even if you could have found it the US, the shipping was worth getting your hands on some german kinder eggs. The german one are much better than the ones I’ve had in Mexico and Canada.

    January 19th, 2010 at 6:38 pm

  8. bryany says:

    this doll is awesome!!! i would have loved this as a kid and i will so be getting it for myself..i mean for my son lol…just gotta talk my hubby into it as he is really squeamish.

    January 19th, 2010 at 6:39 pm

  9. bryany says:

    for people who want the doll it looks like this site sends it to the us

    January 19th, 2010 at 6:46 pm

  10. Nichole says:

    I have a 3 year old that has spent some time in the hospital and had surgery. Ever since she has said that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up so she can help the little kids that have boo-boos. She wants to be a doctor so much that when ever someone in the house is sick, Dr. Bethany comes and helps them get better. (Last time I was sick she ordered me to bed and brought me a “throw up bowl” and a rag.) I so need to get her one of these!

    January 20th, 2010 at 4:17 am

  11. Gina says:

    Thanks bryany – I checked the website – how much is £39.95 in US dollars?

    January 20th, 2010 at 7:23 am

  12. LooneyJen says:

    @gina the site lists it at £29.95 which it’s about $49.

    a trifle steep….

    January 20th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

  13. observer says:

    i really like this doll!! i wish they had this when i was growing up, it would have saved me alot of
    heartache and tears. after all the surgeries i9 have been theough as a child i am still a little freaked out at the thought of ever having another one, this would have been just the thing . it is a good doll to have if you have a kid who needs surgery. it would make it less traumatic on the child.

    January 20th, 2010 at 8:21 pm

  14. can can says:

    That is so cool! I will have to show my co-teacher at preschool. She is from Germany and maybe can pick up one for our class on her next home visit.

    January 21st, 2010 at 4:20 am

  15. Rachel says:

    Best surgery photos ever!!!

    January 25th, 2010 at 7:58 pm