“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”. - Anna
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 can see in the picture above, she was born with port wine stains, a skin condition affecting many children I see at Starship.
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 asking you...
Can you 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. To put it bluntly, our old one is broken and we don’t have funding for a new one.
We need your help to ensure more children don’t go through what Anna had to endure.
Anna spent years dealing with teasing and bullying from other other children over her appearance. She also had to endure many painful procedures with our old, out-of-date machine.
The machine we intend to buy is far less painful, and far more effective. Anna decided the blistering and pain with our old equipment wasn’t worth it, and stopped treatment with us. She developed a fear of hospitals, and couldn’t bear the thought of further treatment.
Alas, our children don’t even have that option available to them right now. Our old laser is broken, and we don’t have a replacement. We can’t even offer them more painful treatment with an old machine.
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 may have exceeded $2000. With a new machine like the one we intend to purchase, Anna found the procedures much more bearable.
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.
Hazel is only 20 months old. She has PHACES syndrome - it’s the cause of the vascular marks on her face. 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.
Please understand... I’m not asking for your support to remove small, hidden birthmarks. This isn't about vanity. It's about normality. Children like Hazel just want to feel like every other kid in the playground.
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 please help us provide modern laser treatment for children who need it?
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.
Starship Paediatric Dermatologist