Cancer-Stricken Kids Cope With Chemotherapy By Escaping To Virtual Reality

From CBS Los Angeles

Aired July 23, 2014

ORANGE ( — Doctors at Children’s Hospital of Orange County are helping cancer-stricken kids cope with chemotherapy in an innovative way.

The “Infusionarium” room at CHOC’s Hyundai Cancer Institute allows patients to escape to a virtual reality through a video game or a movie during their treatments.

“It’s the mixture of the word aquarium, if you will, and an infusion space. Chemotherapy is given by an IV infusion,” said Dr. Leonard Sender.

Mia Ordaz, 5, was diagnosed with kidney cancer four years ago and has been enduring chemo for seven months.

Now Mia can escape to anywhere she chooses while undergoing the drug therapy.

“I relax…watching TV,” she said.

“She doesn’t even know treatment is going on because she’s somewhere else,” said Ordaz’s mother. “Since her mind is somewhere else, she doesn’t get sick right after treatment. It lasts a little bit longer.”

The room is part of a $10 million cancer research grant from Hyundai Motor America and its nonprofit organization, Hope On Wheels.

“We’re committed to this because it’s the right thing to do. We have to save these kids, and that’s a passion we have,” said Zafir Brooks of Hyundai Motor America.

Doctors hope the “Infusionarium” room will be implemented in other hospitals across the country.

“The last few kids who have been through it have said, ‘My chemo’s in two weeks…can I come sooner?’” said Sender.