Monday, March 10, 2008

my daughter is PERFECT just like God made her

The parents of a girl with Down syndrome have caused a public outcry in the U.K. by subjecting their daughter to cosmetic surgery to improve her appearance.

Georgia Bussey underwent "radical and painful" cosmetic surgery three times by age 5 so she could "fit in" with her peers, the U.K.'s Daily Mail reported Sunday.

Parents of another girl with Down syndrome told the paper that they were also considering altering her appearance in the future so she could be more "accepted.”

Critics in the U.K. slammed the parents, with some even claiming the procedures were tantamount to child abuse. However, the parents hit back, saying that no one complained when "normal" children had their ears pinned back.

"Why should it be any different for a Downs child?" asked Georgia’s mother Kim Bussey.

Bussey said she and her husband David were motivated by love for their child and deliberated for a year before putting her through the ordeal.

In the first procedure, Georgia's tongue was reduced to stop it from protruding, according to the paper. Then folds of skin were removed from the inner corners of her eyes to take away the "slantiness characteristic" of Down syndrome. Finally, she had surgery to stop her ears from sticking out.

Bussey said society often judges people on the way they look.
"Society is not going to change overnight – so Georgia has to fit into society, rather than society fitting into the way she is," she said.

Another couple, Laurence and Chelsea Kirwan, told the newspaper they were considering surgical procedures for their two-year-old Down syndrome daughter, Ophelia.

Dr. Laurence Kirwan, a world-renowned plastic surgeon with offices in the U.K. and Connecticut, said they would make that decision if Ophelia reached the age of 18 and was being unfairly judged on how she looked.

The mother of a Down's syndrome baby who put her daughter through three painful operations to improve her appearance has denied acting out of vanity.
The Down's Syndrome Association, while not criticising the couple directly, said it was worried about the sort of message sent by their actions

Kim Gallagher: "I didn't do it to make her look prettier, just to give her a more subtle look."
Kim Gallagher and her husband David said they simply wanted what was best for their daughter Georgia and were worried about her being teased at school.

The little girl's story is told in an ITV documentary, Changing Faces, being screened next Tuesday.

Ms Gallagher, 36, said she agonised for a year before deciding to go ahead with the cosmetic surgery on five-year-old Georgia.

The three operations involved:

Her tongue being shortened to stop it protruding.

Folds of skin being removed from her eyelids to reduce the "Mongoloid" appearance traditional associated with Down's syndrome.

Pinning her ears back to prevent them from sticking out.
The couple, who live in affluent Pimlico in central London, say the operations have not been purely cosmetic and point out that Georgia's speech and breathing have improved.

Was in denial after birth

Ms Gallagher, who says she had trouble accepting Georgia when she was first born and did not want to see her, says she wants to protect her daughter from teasing and taunts when she gets older.

She told the Daily Mail: "We live in a society that judges people by the way they look.

"Society is not going to change overnight so Georgia has to fit into society rather than society fitting into the way she is."

Ms Gallagher said some doctors had resisted her attempts to change her daughter's appearance but others had been very "positive".

Further operations a possibility

She said her daughter had not actually been taunted by other children but said she believed it might have happened later in childhood.

As for further cosmetic surgery, she says they are not ruling it out.

Carol Boyes from the Down's Syndrome Association: "We don't believe Down's children suffer."
The Down's Syndrome Association, which champions the rights of people with Down's syndrome, says it fully supports the right of adults to choose plastic surgery.

'Why hide her condition?'

But Carol Boyes, director of the association, said: "We are very sad that they feel the need to change their faces in an attempt to hide the fact that they have Down's syndrome.

"While we will always support them, we do question why parents decide to subject their young children to cosmetic surgery with all the discomfort and risk that any form of surgery entails.

"What message are parents giving to their child in showing that they would like to hide their child's disability?"

Ms Boyes said: "Society must learn to accept people with Down's syndrome for what they are - people who happen to have Down's syndrome. Giving in to prejudice and ignorance by hiding the outward signs of the disability is no solution." another kid


Tammy and Parker said...

Whoa. This really hit hard.

Parker will have to have tongue reduction surgery before he can have his trach removed, but that is to help with his breathing. His tongue doesn't protrude.

But to change the look of this little one's eyes?

I don't know.

Although I have to say that one question I have is if the parents who compare this to child abuse also work to include kids with differing abilities into their children's activities, etc. Thus, helping to end the need for any parent to feel the need to help their child to look more typical.

Anonymous said...

This really does make me upset, angry, & sad for this little girl! Just because Georgia looks different than her peers does not mean she needs to undergo plastic surgery to "fit in!" There are millions of children in this world, and they all look different, and they all have different characteristics. WHAT ARE HER PARENTS THINKING?? This is totally sending the message to Georgia that she is not good enough for society, which is exactly what our kids do NOT need to hear today. They hear this enough through the media, let alone their own parents sending that message in the home!!
If Georgia felt like this herself when she is older, that would be her own decision. But, to make this decision about her appearance that will forever change her, when she is a child, still young & impressionable, is just insanity!
I completely DISAGREE with Georgia's parents decision and believe they have physically and emotionally scarred this beautiful little girl forever.
This is something that I feel strongly about! I would NEVER, in a million years change my little sister's appearance (if I was given the choice) for the world! They all have their own individual beauty. That is what makes them, them!!

Georgia is beautiful, regardless!

Lyndsey Andrews

C. R. Morris said...

How can this be legal? As a parent I would feel so guilty for putting my children through needless pain. :-( I don't get it? These children are already perfect...just as GOD made them! I'm going to have a stomping fit.

Christina said...


This reminds me of a piece I saw on a news show (20/20 or 60 mintues, can't remember), when Jake was really little. A family was having their son with Down Syndrome undergo the same type of surgeries. It was horrible to watch. It was very graphic...showing his recovery after the surgeries, his pain, etc. I have a hard time understanding why a parent would put their child through so much *elective* pain. Not to mention the inherent risk that comes from going under general anesthesia. It is mind numbing to me to think that parents are willing to risk the LIFE of their child to change their apperance cosmetically??!! The piece made me just cry and cry. The ironic thing, at least to me is that in the little boys case (and Georgia's as well), I could tell they both had Down Syndrome the minute I looked at them. So, they did not even *accomplish* what they set out to do. The whole thing is ludacris.

An RR group friend

Bianca Gallagher said...

A mother, that wants to give her daughter the best life possible and undertakes anything she can to achieve in doing so, How can this be legal??

Just a few things to clear up here, I feel sick in having to justify anything and in learning throughout the years of controversy, that people can be so nescient.

Consultants had warned Kim (Georgia's mother and also my mother) that Georgia's sight would deteriorate and with her ears curled over at the top, she would not be able to wear glasses. Kim had also been warned that Georgia could have problems with talking, eating and difficulty in breathing as people with down's have smaller mouths which tend to make their toungues stick out.

In knowing that this wasn't a major procedure, Georgia's mother wanted to pursue these options of having surgery to IMPROVE HER QUALITY OF LIFE. You may be able to see now, that it was not done as an attempt to hide the fact that Georgia does have downs. I feel that, as Georgia's sister, after all the criticism this is the statement that hurts the most.

My mother, somehow lets the critisism fly over her head. She knows that above all, everything that had happened, was best for Georgia.

As for Georgia now, well, she's an angel.

Never have I left her for longer than 3 WEEKS, or she leave me infact, when she cheekily got the chance to sail off to St.Lucia, without me onboard ...
She's sitting across the room from me at this moment, listening to 'her' Beyonce on MY ipod (USE YOUR OWN GEORGE!) ... and tapping away at her Nintendo DS..

'Scarred'??? Sounds like it, doesn't it.......... I need to learn to let these statements fly over too.

Michelle said...

I didn't do it to make her look prettier, just to give her a more subtle look.

I m glad you love your sister so much. But your mothers own words were very clear, she was trying to make the DS less obvious. SHE said so. That is what I have an issue with.
By the way, kids with DS dont automatically get the laundry list of possible outcomes such as vision trouble, breathing troubles, etc. And many kids with DS wear glasses quite easily, including my own child. I am sure you want to protect your family from public scrutiny, but your mother admitted why she did this, and I and many others have every right in the world to disagree with that reason.

Bianca Gallagher said...

The media, in this case, a national newspaper whos primary objective is to sell newspapers, they do this by publishing controversial articles, in this case, as i know the truth and witnessed the interview, there is clear editorial bias against my mother, the journalist took notes from the afternoon of the interview, took it back to the editor and put the spin on the story and published it as what happened that day. My family can't control what has been written, all i know is the truth, and that my mother didnt say that.

'news junkie'

That's all.

Michelle said...

Bianca, yes, I am a news junkie. I am also pretty well-versed in Down syndrome. And I know without a doubt that most people in the DS community disagree with unneccessary surgery on ANY child. You can choose to dislike my post, and my comments, and continue being snide in your replies. But this is MY blog, and I have the right to say what I wish.

AZmomto7 said...

I watched the documentary of the young man who had the plastic surgeries here in the US, it was horrible to see, but there was one surgery he had that could be lifechanging, he had his humerus bones lengthened (upper arm bones)

My husband works with teenagers with Down syndrome who need help using the toilet as they cannot unzip their own pants or attend to their own toileting needs because their arms are so short. Perhaps not life changing for all, but they also do this surgery for people with acondraplasia for the same reasons, also not without controversy in that community.

We cried when we saw the young mand suffer through facial reconstruction, I think the bone lengthening was more painful by far though, but I bet he will be grateful as an adult for that one.


lisa said...

does anyone have a copy of this documentary?If so I will buy it if necessary, if not can you please send it to me at my abnormal psyc. teacher wants to use it in a class discussion against it and more acceptance from others. She lost her other copy.thank you.