Lamaya Sakales is a 10-year-old who has already undergone three open heart surgeries after being born with a congenital heart defect.
The fourth-grade student from Land O’ Lakes, Florida, has a scar down the middle of her chest after the surgeries and has started a petition on Change.org asking her favorite doll company, American Girl, to make a doll that looks just like her.
“If you make a doll with a chest scar, I and many others will feel safe and normal like it doesn't have to be a secret,” Lamaya wrote on the petition, which has garnered nearly 3,000 signatures in one week.
“The American girl doll company has a history of embracing diversity and ‘a doll for every Child,’” she wrote. “Please make a doll with a chest scar (or a scar kit) for the many kids who live with scars that show their bravery!”
Lamaya’s mother, Christen Sakales, said her daughter was inspired to create her own petition after American Girl began selling a diabetes care kit for dolls that was also supported on Change.org.
“She loves American Girl dolls and she’s always said that she’d wish she could have a doll with a chest surgery scar,” Sakales told ABC News. “I saw online that there was another girl who’d done it for diabetic kits and she said, ‘Hey, let’s see if they’d do it for us.’”
Lamaya dictated to her mom what she wanted the petition to say, drawing on her 10 years of experience dealing with the complications of her heart defect.
“She has hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a severe congenital heart defect, commonly referred to as having a half of a heart,” Sakales said. “She had her first open-heart surgery shortly after birth, her second around one-and-a-half and the third around the age of three.
Lamaya, who owns the American Girl doll Cecile Rey, will be on medications for the rest of her life, according to Sakales.
“It’s a really hard thing to go to and she’s very sensitive about it,” Sakales said of her daughter’s health struggles. “Sometimes kids make fun of her scar and she comes home and tells me about it.”
“For her to say that it’s OK to put this out there and to say that she wants other kids to feel good about themselves shows a lot of growth,” she said of the petition. “I’m really proud of her.”
Sakales says the family has not yet heard from American Girl. The company told ABC News in a statement they strive to be inclusive in their products.
"American Girl has a long history of creating dolls and accessories that speak to diversity and inclusion, and we appreciate the trust our fans, like Lamaya, have in us to create a particular item. Each day, American Girl receives hundreds of passionate requests for specific products to be created," the statement read. "While we know each request is important, at this time (as in years past) we are unable to accept product ideas or guarantee when, or if, a particular product will be developed. That said, our design team is constantly exploring new ways to enhance our doll lines with items that resonate with girls on a variety of levels. Girls like Lamaya inspire us every day, and we look forward to creating new products, stories, and experiences that celebrate the countless unique qualities in all of them."
Sakales says her dream would be for a doll that children like her daughter can use to make others more aware of their struggles.
“There are so many kids who have open-heart surgery scars and there’s not a lot of awareness out there,” Sakales said. “This is something they live with for the rest of their lives and if we can promote awareness and have a little more compassion in this world, it’d be a great thing.”