Thursday, August 11, 2011
Musings about Hair Donation
Now, I grow my hair out every now and then with the idea that I'll donate my hair to make a wig for somebody who needs it. Mostly, I do it because that way I don't have to think about getting my hair cut. I hate making appointments. Last time I did this, I donated my hair to Locks of Love.
For some reason, I decided to do a little superficial checking on Locks of Love. First, I went to the Better Business Bureau, and looked up Locks of Love. They meet their 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. Then, I googled and found a few websites claiming that Locks of Love is a scam. Most of the scam complaints center on two things: 1) the wigs (or hair prosthetics) don't necessarily go to kids with cancer; and 2) not all donated hair is used for the wigs/hair prosthetics.
Now, the Locks of Love website states that "most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure." The website also states that they "provide hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children....suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis." So, the outrage that Locks of Love doesn't necessarily make these wigs/hair prosthetics for children who have lost their hair due to chemo is a little self-righteous. While not meaning to lessen the pain of hair loss due to chemo, typically, hair does grow back within a year. And even patients with alopecia areata can expect hair to regrow within a few months.
As for the other cause of outrage, I can't get too upset about it. Sometimes the hair isn't usable because it's been chemically damaged, or damaged by hair dryers. Gray hair isn't usable (it can't hold the dyes needed to match hair colors). There may be other reasons why hair isn't usable. Honestly, if you go for a hair cut, where do you think your hair ends up? Evidently, Locks of Love will sell some of the pony tails to wigmakers. I'll bet some of that is because they aren't having wigs made and stored against future need. From what I read about the manufacture of the kinds of wigs they make, hair prosthetic is the better term. These prosthetics aren't cheap (one site quoted a figure of $3,000 - $6,000), and the money has to come from somewhere--either cash donations or the sale of the pony tails. They don't give away every hair prosthetic-- they use a sliding scale to figure out how much you pay.
The New York Times wrote an article about hair donation ("Lather, Rinse, Donate") in 2007. So, even knowing that my hair may end up being thrown away, I'll probably still donate it. Surprisingly, there aren't too many hair donation charities: Lock of Love, Wigs for Kids, and Pantene seem to be the Big Three.
Well, it's time to go be aMused....