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Dolls Made With Cleft Lips And Heart Surgery Scars

July 7, 2020

Dolls with hearing aids, cleft lips and heart surgery scars are being made to order by a mother who says they help young children to learn through play.

Victoria Band, 33, from Dewsbury, started adapting dolls last October, inspired by her son who has worn a hearing aid since he was a baby.

Customers soon began to make custom requests, and Ms Band is now making about 15 dolls for export each week.

She said she wanted to do something “a bit different” but with a purpose.

Ms Band said her orders increased dramatically when her business was shared by a cleft lip and palate support group in the US.

She said: “I was contacted by a group called Cleftopedia after someone had seen one of my dolls with a cleft lip online. She shared my page and within a week my followers went from about 100 to more than 3,000.

“I woke up one morning to about 300 messages and I thought, ‘Wow, have I taken on a bit too much here?'”

Ms Band said she had not realised how important it was for children to have dolls which looked like them, but it had proved popular.

“Toys are a big part of children’s play and learning at the same time,” she said. “I gave some to my child’s school, a Down’s Syndrome doll, a doll with a cleft lip and a doll with a hearing aid. They said they would really help their children as well.

Cleft lip

“It shows the children about different things.”

Katherine Thomson, from Bletchley, has bought two of the dolls for her daughter Sapphire, who was born with a bilateral cleft lip.

She said her four-year-old took her latest doll, Tallulah, everywhere with her and loved showing her to people.

“She says, ‘look, this baby’s got a cleft, I used to have a cleft’, and it makes her really proud,” she said.

Sapphire had her lip repaired just before her first birthday, and her mum said having the doll had been “amazing”.

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