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Kenai girl donates her hair for cancer victims

Posted: Monday, June 26, 2000

Meranda Mahan is giving up her hair for a good cause.

The 9-year-old girl sat down in a chair at Hair Pros Beauty Salon in Soldotna on June 19 and calmly let hair stylist Andrea Marks chop off her thick brown locks with scissors. She will be donating the hair to an organization that makes hairpieces available to children who have lost their hair during treatment for cancer.

Meranda, a student at Sears Elementary School who will be in fourth grade this fall, was inspired by a story aired on Channel 11 news about young cancer victims. Her aunt Bonita Mahan said Meranda was determined to give her hair after watching it and was referred to two organizations -- Locks of Love and Wigs for Kids -- by Central Peninsula General Hospital.

Her hair, tied with a rubber band, came off in one large bundle after Marks finished cutting through it.

"That's one year's worth of hair," said Bonita Mahan. "She grows it real fast, and it gets real thick."

Will she do it again next year?

"Yes," Meranda said, and cousin Gabby Browning, who came along to watch, said she might donate her blond ponytail, too.

David Lagadi, whose organization, Lagadi and Associates, collects donated hair for Locks of Love, said Meranda's hair will be sent to a company in San Francisco, Taylor-Made Re-Illusions, which manufactures prosthetic hairpieces.

"That isn't the same as a wig," Lagadi said. "A person who buys a wig is trying to make a fashion statement. Someone who needs a prosthetic hairpiece wants to recreate the natural appearance of hair that they have lost. It's like fitting an artificial limb."

Donated hair is stockpiled and sorted by weight, texture and color. A child needing a hairpiece would have a sample taken of their natural hair, then the donated hair is blended, piece by piece, to match as closely as possible.

One hairpiece may consist of many donors' hair. Recipients must qualify financially; the hairpieces are given to children whose families cannot afford them. Locks of Love, based in Florida, is a nonprofit organization started by Peggy Knight, who wanted to help children who have lost their hair for medical reasons.

"You're going to make one little kid happy," Bonita Mahan told Meranda, as her new short hair was washed and combed.

Meranda said she hopes other kids with thick, fast-growing hair will follow her example and donate it.

Anyone interested in donating hair can contact Lagadi and Associates in Anchorage at (800) 478-6114 or e-mail them at lagadi@alaska.net.



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