A 10-year-old in Pasco County is on mission. She’s petitioning a popular doll manufacturer to make a doll for children with heart problems, and she’s getting support from people all over the nation.
Lamaya Sakales may only be 10, but she has already had three open heart surgeries. It’s because she was born with half a heart, a condition called hypoplastic left heart.
“I want to make girls feels secure. They don’t have to be afraid with a scar, and kids won’t be so mean,” she said.
Now she’s calling on the American Girl Doll Company, which has a history of embracing diversity, to make a doll with a chest scar for her and hundreds of others like her.
“One out of every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect, so that’s a lot of children who have a scar from that,” said Lamaya’s mom, Christen Sakales.
Sakales started a Change.org petition less than a week ago and it’s already at more than 1,600 signatures.
“I would say that 90 percent of the signatures are from other congenital heart defect families and children who would like to see that doll made for their kids,” Christen said.
Just last week the popular brand started selling an American Girl doll with a diabetic kit after 11-year-old Anja Busse in Wisconsin started a petition of her own with more than 4,000 signatures. Lamaya hopes hers will do the same.
“If they’re feeling overwhelmed they can look at their dolls' chest scars and feel like they’re awesome, they’re brave, they’re cool,” Lamaya said.
A counselor we spoke to says dolls that look like children with illnesses help them identify with their condition in a comfortable way. She says if they’re not comfortable, it could have negative effects.
“If it’s not handled in a healthy way, they tend to act out and be angry, or they can suffer from anxiety or depression, social withdrawal or problems with school,” said Lisa McDaniel, counselor MSW.
While Lamaya loves her American Girl dolls, she says it’s time for something new. She hopes the doll makers will see her petition and make her wish come true.
American Girl has a history of creating items that speak to diversity and inclusion, making dolls with wheelchairs, hearing aids, casts, and even others without hair for children receiving treatment for cancer.
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