Teen Born Without Leg Donates Hundreds of Barbies with Prosthetic Legs to Local Hospital
Chloe Newman, 18, said she hopes patients receiving the dolls will feel more secure about their own prosthetic limbs
A New York teen who’s lived with a prosthetic leg her entire life was thrilled when she learned Mattel had created a special Barbie for people just like her — and wanted to ensure others would be able to get their hands on it, too.
Chloe Newman, 18, donated more than 400 Barbie dolls that feature prosthetic legs to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she has received treatment for years, the hospital said in a press release.
“I think [the patients] would feel better about themselves,” she told NBC affiliate WWLP. “That they would see, ‘Wow, they are making a Barbie like me, so why should I be ashamed of myself if there’s now toys like me?’ ”
Chloe, of Mechanicville, N.Y., has Amniotic Band Syndrome, a rare condition that causes strands of the amniotic sac to separate and entangle fingers, toes, limbs and other parts of the fetus, according to Benioff Children’s Hospitals. As a result, she was born without her right leg.
Every year she receives a new prosthetic leg from Shriners’ Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services unit, where she has been treated since she was adopted as a baby from Kazakhstan, mom Cindy Newman told CNN.
Newman said that after Chloe decided she wanted to donate the dolls to Shriners patients, she headed to the local Walmart, but only found four of the Barbie Fashionista #121 dolls.
At that point, Newman took to Facebook to solicit donations from friends and family, hoping they could reach 100, as that’s how many patients were receiving prosthetic limbs at Shriners, MassLive reported.
“If you’re out shopping, if you see five [dolls]. Get them and I’ll reimburse you,” the post reportedly read.
The mother-daughter team hit their goal within 24 hours, but kept receiving dolls — including 200 from Mattel.
Their haul of more than 400 Barbies — plus the additional dolls from Mattel — were delivered on Monday, where they will “serve as tools in therapeutic education and medical play for kids facing amputation to help explain their situation,” the release said.
Additional dolls will be dispersed among the hospital’s 16 other Pediatric Orthotics and Prosthetics Services locations across the country.
“The whole point was to give back to Shriners because we’ve received so much,” Cindy Newman told CNN.
A spokesperson for Mattel did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Mattel introduced the Fashionistas line in February — which included not only a Barbie with a prosthetic limbs, but a doll in a wheelchair — to reflect differently abled bodies, Good Morning America reported.
“For 60 years, Barbie has been a reflection of culture and fashion and that is key to the brand’s continued relevance,” Kim Culmone, Global Head of Design for Barbie, told GMA. “As we design Barbie for the next generation, we are focused on evolving to remain the most diverse doll line in the marketplace.”