Western State Hospital staff help patient give special gift to kids battling medical hair loss
Western State Hospital beauticians Celina Shrader and Danyell Elwell, who were certified to collect hair for the Wigs for Kids program last quarter, recently got the green light to collect the first locks of hair from a patient at the hospital.
The beauty salon closed during the height of the pandemic, so for the past several months, Shrader and Elwell have coached patients on ways to keep their hair clean, healthy and untangled.
To donate, hair must be provided in a special way called “harvesting.” The method ensures hair arrives clean, dry and without any mold or damage. Making a donation requires 12 inches of useable hair, and six ponytails can make up to 30 hair pieces.
“Some of the patients were super excited when they learned about the program,” Shrader said. “We showed them how to braid their hair and provided light trims every few weeks so when the time came they (and their hair) would be ready.”
The pair’s advice paid off and on Aug. 19, the light turned green and they collected some beautiful hair from patient Jared Standley. When asked if his hair donation story could be shared, Standley emphatically said yes.
“I would like to have my experience broadcasted to add momentum and energy to others who might also donate,” Standley said.
Shrader said Standley did not talk a lot while they worked on his hair, but that he was obviously pleased and thanked her and Elwell several times.
“He followed the rules for cleanliness very well, which made it easy for us to do the harvesting process in a timely manner,” she said.
Each wig costs about $1,800 to make and is custom-made, hand tied with human hair. The program provides the hair piece and accessories to the child free of charge.
Wigs for Kids is a nonprofit organization that provides hair for children who cannot grow their own due to medical reasons (i.e., alopecia, trichotillomania or chemotherapy treatments). The nonprofit was established in 1981 and its mission is to make sure kids don’t have to worry about what they look like in the midst of other health crises.
“We all feel better when we look better,” said Shrader. “And that goes for you, me, patients and kids suffering from hair loss. The Wigs for Kids program lets patients help others who also suffer from self-esteem issues because of their own illness.”
(Story by Lisa Copeland)