Healing Hands

Jonah Larson hopes to channel his incredible crochet skills into a career as a surgeon.

By Abigail Fagan, published April 29, 2020 - last reviewed on May 5, 2020

Jonah's Hands, used with permission.
Jonah's Hands, used with permission.

When Jonah Larson’s aunt dropped off a bag of crafts at his Wisconsin home, he was instantly drawn to the crochet hook. Then 5 years old, he ventured onto YouTube and taught himself, constructing a blue and green dishcloth. Now, Jonah crochets every day. He creates sprawling afghans and delicate baby shoes; he can make a hat in 46 minutes. He donates most of the proceeds from his crafts to charity, including an organization that builds schools in the Ethiopian town from which he was adopted. The 12-year-old crochet master now dreams of leveraging his dexterity to become a surgeon.

How does crochet prepare you for the future?

Crochet is a nonstressful dress rehearsal for being a surgeon. It helps me work on my hand dexterity and also on my focus, persistence, and patience. I think surgery requires concentration and the ability to work on something, not make a mistake, and keep moving toward a goal. The difference is that crochet is so calming and relaxing. And I don’t think doing surgery would be relaxing, because someone’s life is in your hands.

Last May, I was invited to the University of Wisconsin-Madison department of surgery. I was able to use their practice materials and talk to surgeons. I was lucky enough to actually do microsurgery on a real live chicken thigh and sew a blood vessel up with one of the doctors.

That trip finalized the choice for me to become a surgeon. I think about what it will be like to do that life-changing work. The need to help other people is strong for me. When I give, it kind of makes me feel like I have a warm glow. Being a surgeon would allow me to go around the world helping people, especially in Ethiopia and the United States because those are my two communities.