Plastic Surgery on British Down’s Child Sparks Debate

by Thilaka Ravi on  March 13, 2008 at 2:53 PM Child Health News
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Plastic Surgery on British Down’s Child Sparks Debate
Parents of a five-year-old British girl with Down Syndrome who saw it fit to have their child undergo plastic surgery thrice, are hearing critics calling the operations tantamount to 'child abuse.'

Parents Kim and David Bussey, from Pimlico in south-west London, had the surgeries performed on their child to alter her protruding tongue, "slanty" skin around her eyes and prominent ears, so that she could look more normal.

Kim Bussey defended the decision to have the surgeries done saying, "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.

Another London couple, Chelsea and Laurence Kirwan, said they would consider plastic surgery for their toddler daughter Ophelia if she were to be unfairly judged on her appearance at a later date.

Mr Kirwan, a renowned plastic surgeon, said the procedures would correct her "eyes slightly wide apart, flat nasal bridge, thin lips, tongue that sticks out, thick neck".

The plastic surgery on the British child has drawn widespread criticisms from disability rights advocates, doctors and parents of children with Down's syndrome, who call it tantamount to 'child abuse.'

"What these children bring to our lives is something so deep and extraordinary, it is humanity stripped to the bone," says Rosa Monckton. Her 12-year-old daughter is with  Down's Syndrome.

"It is not about how they look, but who they are. First and foremost, they are our children, children to be loved and cherished - not tampered with and altered because they look slightly different," she added.

According to Rosa Moncton, "It's a sad indictment of what our must-have society has become, the expectation is for something perfect. Anything which isn't aesthetically perfect - be it breasts, bodies or the faces of children just out of babyhood - must be fixed until it is. These are grotesquely skewed values."

Andrew Harcourt, father of 15-year-old Tess, who has Down syndrome believed that an operation was not neccesary because his daughter who was in high school recognized other children who had Down syndrome and had no problem bonding with them.

David Craig, the executive officer of Disability Rights Victoria, said though he sympathised with families who wanted to protect their children from discrimination in society, unneccesary surgery on these children without a medical need was not an option.

"It's much better to change the way society thinks and aim for an inclusive society accepting of difference. People with a disability should be seen as part of life's diversity," David Craig said. 

According to a spokeswoman of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, while there were no rules governing cosmetic procedures on young people with mental or physical disabilities as in the case of Down's syndrome, "Australian surgeons preferred to be conservative and needed to be assured the child understood and consented to the procedure."

Source: Medindia

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