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Aflac’s Award-Winning My Special Aflac Duck® Brings High-Tech Comfort and Joy to San Antonio Children Facing Cancer and Blood Disorders

Pediatric patients at University Health receive robotic companions, along with a day packed with festive activities, creating moments of joy and warmth.

Aflac’s Award-Winning My Special Aflac Duck® Brings High-Tech Comfort and Joy to San Antonio Children Facing Cancer and Blood Disorders

Pediatric patients at University Health receive robotic companions, along with a day packed with festive activities, creating moments of joy and warmth.

Published 11-30-23

Submitted by Aflac Incorporated

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The Ramirez family gives a thumbs up after receiving a My Special Aflac Duck for cancer patient Natalia (r) at University Health in San Antonio, Texas.

Originally published on Aflac Newsroom

COLUMBUS, Ga., November 30, 2023 /CSRwire/ - Aflac, a leading provider of supplemental health insurance products in the U.S. and a steadfast supporter of families dealing with pediatric cancer and blood disorders, delivered its acclaimed My Special Aflac Duck to children at University Hospital in San Antonio. This event marks a significant moment in Aflac's ongoing commitment to bringing comfort and joy to young patients on their journeys.

The My Special Aflac Duck, an innovative robotic companion, utilizes medical play, realistic motions and emotional emulation to interact with and provide comfort to children undergoing treatment. Created in collaboration with over 100 children, families and health care professionals over 18 months, this animatronic duck serves as a crucial tool to help children manage the emotional aspects of their treatments. To date, more than 25,000 My Special Aflac Ducks have been delivered to children with cancer and sickle cell disease completely free of charge.

"At Aflac, our purpose is deeply rooted in being there for our policyholders during life's most trying moments. My Special Aflac Duck stands as a tangible symbol of that dedication," said Ines Rodriguez Gutzmer, senior vice president, Communications. Aflac Incorporated. "Witnessing the authentic smiles of children as they embrace a new companion on their journey fills our hearts, and we are thrilled to deliver this award-winning resource to the children at University Health who are navigating the path of pediatric cancer or blood disorders like sickle cell disease."

Children at University Health participated in a My Special Aflac Duck demonstration and engaged in challenges before receiving their very own robotic companion. The patients and their families were invited to stay for the duck reveal party, enjoying various activities such as creating birth certificates and beaded necklaces for their ducks, coloring and more.

"University Health and our partners at UT Health San Antonio are committed to improving outcomes for children facing cancer and sickle cell disease. Our efforts include not just comprehensive medical care but therapeutic activities and emotional support," said Irene Sandate, chief nursing officer, University Health Women's and Children's Hospital. "Our team of child life specialists help children and their families understand and cope with challenging health care events. Specially adapted toys like My Special Aflac Duck provide a comforting presence and a way for children to understand and respond to their treatments."

My Special Aflac Duck includes an interactive mobile app for virtual care, customizable soundscapes for soothing visuals and sounds, smart sensors for touch and awareness, a calming heartbeat, and breathing vibrations. Named Best in Show at CES in Las Vegas and featured on Time Magazine's list of Best Inventions, the duck has garnered acclaim for its innovative approach to pediatric care.

Health care providers, support organizations and families can order My Special Aflac Duck free of charge for children ages 3 and older who are diagnosed with cancer or sickle cell disease at

Aflac Incorporated (NYSE: AFL), a Fortune 500 company, has helped provide financial protection and peace of mind for more than 68 years to millions of policyholders and customers through its subsidiaries in the U.S. and Japan. In the U.S., Aflac is the No. 1 provider of supplemental health insurance products.1 In Japan, Aflac Life Insurance Japan is the leading provider of cancer and medical insurance policies in force. The company takes pride in being there for its policyholders when they need us most, as well as being included in 2023 in the World's Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere for 17 consecutive years, Fortune's World's Most Admired Companies for 22 years and Bloomberg's Gender-Equality Index for the fourth consecutive year. In addition, the company became a signatory of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) in 2021 and has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index (2022) for nine years. To find out how to get help with expenses health insurance doesn't cover, get to know us at or Investors may learn more about Aflac Incorporated and its commitment to corporate social responsibility and sustainability at under "Sustainability."

University Health is the only locally owned health system in San Antonio. For more than 100 years, University Health has been here to heal, improve health, train the next generation of medical professionals and ensure the people of San Antonio, Bexar County and South Texas have access to primary and advanced specialty care close to home. Specialized services include the region's only Level I trauma center for both adults and children, and maternal and neonatal intensive care centers designated at the highest levels by the State of Texas. As the region's only academic health system, University Health is a hub of innovation and discovery, committed to delivering patient-centered, culturally competent, high-quality and compassionate care, based on a strong foundation of outcomes‐based research and innovative teaching. Learn more at

1 LIMRA 2022 U.S. Supplemental Health Insurance Total Market Report

Media contact for Aflac: Jon Sullivan, 706-763-4813 or

Media contact for University Health: Shelley Kofler, 512-294-5224 or 

Analyst and investor contact for Aflac: David A. Young, 706-596-3264, 800-235-2667 or


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Aflac Incorporated

Aflac Incorporated

Aflac is a Fortune 500 company, providing financial protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. When a policyholder or insured gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fairly, promptly and directly to the insured. For more than six decades, Aflac voluntary insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress.

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