Children's Hospital Patients Swim With Dolphins: 'It Makes You Forget What's Going On'

One of the SeaWorld dolphin trainers was even a former patient at the same children's hospital.

Dolphins proved to be the perfect therapists for the day when young patients from a San Diego children’s hospital had the chance to swim with the mammals.

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“It makes you forget what’s going on and it just brings you into playful childness that you have in your heart and in your mind," 14-year-old Juliana Abraham, who is battling a brain tumor at the Rady Children’s Hospital, told KFMB. "It gives you a giddy feeling. It’s nice."

Abraham was one of the seven patients invited to participate in the Dolphin Interaction Program — or DIP — at SeaWorld earlier this week.

The patients, all having suffered trauma in their earlier years, had the chance to meet the dolphins up close and personal, as long as the visit was approved by a doctor.

Carlos Delgado, of the Rady Children’s Hospital, told the experience seems to have a healing effect on their patients.

“Our kids get anxiety leading up to it,” Delgado explained. “But once they do it, they say this was the best experience ever. They forget their chemo and their experiences at the hospital.”

Anastasie Abboud, 10, is being treated for deafness and other complications following an accident at the children’s hospital. A tiki statue fell on her when she was 4 years old, and she was not expected to survive after it crushed her skull.

Today, she's alive, and loves checking out the mammals.

"I really like how dolphins jump and I just got to see like a lot of dolphins and I was really, really happy,” she said.

Her father, Nicholas Abboud, told KFMB he could tell the impact the dolphins have had on her mood.

"I could see the expression on her face,” Abboud said. “It was like pure joy, pure excitement. I couldn’t take enough photos.”

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The program was first introduced to the children’s hospital by a dolphin trainer who was treated at the facility for cancer as a child.

This year, Delgado said that trainer, who was treated for diabetes at the facility, was able to lead their session this year.

“One of the kids even said to the trainer, ‘You were like me, and I want to be a trainer,’” Delgado recalled.

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