Dear Starship supporter,
My name is Diana Purvis. I’m a Paediatric Dermatologist at Starship.
If you've landed here, you probably know a little bit about Hazel already. I want to show you exactly how you can help her...but first, I need to explain this quote.
“After I turned 16, the constant bullying wasn’t so easy for me to ignore any more. I started covering it with makeup. This became part of my everyday routine….I began to realize how much money it was costing me just to look normal”.
The snippet you’ve just read comes from a former patient of ours - a girl born with highly visible facial markings. ‘Birthmarks’, you might call them.
She’s asked me not to use her real name, so we’ll just call her ‘Anna’. As you might have guessed, she was born with port wine stains, a skin condition affecting many children I see at Starship. This is a picture of her when she was a toddler.
She looks like a happy child in this picture, but things became far harder for her as she grew up.
Unfortunately, I frequently hear stories like Anna’s. Every week I meet children who don’t like what they see in the mirror, and parents who feel distressed because of it.
The frustrating thing is, it doesn’t have to be like this. With the right equipment, we could effectively treat many of these children, giving them the confidence and self-esteem to live much happier lives.
That’s why I’m writing to you today.
Can you please help Starship provide life-changing laser treatment to children like Anna with highly visible facial marks?
Currently, the Paediatric Dermatology Department at Starship doesn’t have a dermatological laser.
We need your help to ensure more children don’t go through what Anna had to endure.
Anna spent years dealing with low-self esteem, and struggled to accept what she saw in the mirror.
With a modern dermatology laser, we could have treated Anna and made her birthmarks almost disappear.
Alas, our children don’t have that option available to them right now.
That leaves our children and families in a regrettable position...they either accept a turbulent journey into adulthood with obvious facial markings, or pay out-of-pocket for expensive private laser treatment.
Anna’s family paid privately for her treatment - a cost that could have exceeded $2000. With a new machine like the one we intend to purchase, Anna was treated effectively.
But many families we see at Starship simply can’t afford that kind of expense. In these financially uncertain times, it’s hard enough for many families just to put food on the table. Laser treatment at a private clinical facility just isn’t an option.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can help children like Anna receive life-changing laser treatment for their visible facial markings...before their self-esteem and self-image take a hit.
She’s a bubbly toddler, and her parents Dani and Matt are loving and supportive.
But like all children with visible facial markings, she faces huge challenges with her self-esteem and confidence as she grows older.
You can help ensure Kiwi children like Hazel have the best chance of developing a positive self-image...one that isn’t defined by the markings on their face. If she requires it, I’m confident we could make Hazel’s facial markings almost disappear if we had the new laser.
It’s hard to understate the difference that could make as she grows older. She'd be far more likely to confidently talk and interact with her peers. That will mean more friend groups, better relationships, and overall better physical and mental health.
Please understand... I’m not asking for your support to remove small, hidden birthmarks.
This isn't about vanity. It's about normalcy. I want your help to give kids like Hazel the chance to look like all the other kids in the playground.
We don't have time to waste.
We urgently need this laser to start clearing our waiting list...a waiting list filled with children like Hazel and Anna with highly visible facial markings.
So please, can you help us provide modern laser treatment for children who need it?
I work in a hospital, so I hear the word ‘urgent’ a lot. But we really do need this piece of equipment as soon as possible. We simply can’t provide laser treatment without a laser, and there are lots of children like Anna and Hazel who could benefit immensely from it.
So please, help us fund the dermatological laser and provide brighter futures for children living with permanent, visible skin conditions.
And help us keep a smile on this little face as she grows older.
Diana Purvis, Starship Paediatric Dermatologist