Tresses for charity

Tresses for charity

Young people are cutting their long locks for a good cause - to make 'wigs' for cancer patients


Betty Li collected almost HK$3,000 for charity.
Betty Li collected almost HK$3,000 for charity.
We might not think about our hair much, but it can serve a meaningful purpose for cancer patients.

Betty Li and Vanessa Hui, who were born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada, donated their hair to a charity to help cancer patients earlier this year.

'It's very common in Canada - many organisations collect it,' Hui says. She is now back in Hong Kong, but cannot find a place to donate her hair to. 'I was at the hairdresser and cut about 10 inches of my hair. I sent it to the Angel Hair Foundation in Canada,' she says.

The Angel Hair Foundation provides cranial prostheses, also known as Angel Hair Systems. The foundation offers them for free to children and teenagers who are suffering hair loss due to medical conditions.

According to the foundation's website, cranial prostheses are different from wigs sold at department stores or wig shops. Each prosthesis is custom-made to fit.

The head of the patient is measured beforehand. Human hair of a variety of colours is used to make a prosthesis so it looks more natural.

The hair is hand-tied onto a base material that's similar to the scalp. The base, which is air permeable and comfortable, is attached with a semi-permanent bond. Patients can wash and style their hair as they want.

Li donated her hair without giving it a second thought.

'I am a volunteer for the Canadian Cancer Society and they have a 'wig room' where patients can get fitted for and borrow a wig because wigs are expensive. That's when I started asking people about hair donation,' she says.

'I've always wanted to help in some way, but I didn't want to go to such extremes as shaving my head. A couple of years ago, I did some research and stopped dyeing my hair. I just let it grow.'

Li let her hair grow to her waist. Hair donations have to be 25-30 centimetres and untreated. She donated her hair to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths programme which provides wigs for cancer patients.

She says the hairstylist who cut her hair has been collecting hair from her clients for donation for the last 10 years. Betty got a free haircut with the donation.

'My friends and I did joke about it since it is a taboo in Asian culture [witch doctors can put a spell on someone using their hair], but I'm not superstitious, and it's for a greater cause. I know my hair will make someone's life so much better.'

Li explains that wigs are expensive, and most families of cancer patients are struggling to pay medical bills. 'A hair prosthesis not only helps cancer patients get through the physical changes resulting from treatment, it also makes them feel better emotionally,' she says.

'I used my hair donation as a fund-raiser for a cancer event. I asked friends and family to sponsor me, and I collected CA$375 [HK$2,875].'

Before you make plans to lop off your locks, hair donation has not caught on in Hong Kong, and organisations such as the Hong Kong Cancer Fund and the Children's Cancer Foundation do not accept hair donations.

But there have been other activities to support children suffering cancer. In May, two professors from the University of Hong Kong's Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine shaved their heads and raised almost HK$700,000 for cancer research on children.

But many charities and hair salons in other countries, such as the US and Britain, accept hair donations.

For more information on hair donation, click here

Additional reporting by YP Intern Chitra Karamchandani



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That's a good news for cancer patients. Of course, hair is vital for those who are suffering hair loss due to medical conditions. Therefore, it's more blessed to give than to receive.

Charlotte Chan


Hair donation is really a meaningful event because it can help the cancer patients who are suffering hair loss. I am very proud of the people who donated their hair. I will tell my friends about this event and ask them to help the people who are in need.