Watch: This 6-year-old Dubai boy grew his hair for 3 years; now donates 25 inches of it for cancer patients

The hair donation drive was part of a larger campaign to raise awareness and get more people to conduct self-examinations


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Sat 20 May 2023, 2:32 PM

Last updated: Sun 21 May 2023, 12:11 AM

Over twenty people, some as young as six, donated their hair in one of the first public hair donation campaigns held in Dubai. The hair will be used to manufacture wigs for cancer patients.

Six-year-old Ariea had been patiently growing his hair for over three years with the intention of donating it.

His father Hemanth is a cancer survivor. The entrepreneur, who was diagnosed with second-stage cancer in 2010, underwent a long and arduous treatment for over four months. “When my wife and I came back to Ajman after the treatment, our business had died out,” he said. “We lost our customers and staff and we had to start building everything from scratch.”

Six-year-old Ariea with his parents Hemanth and Swati and his brother Arien
Six-year-old Ariea with his parents Hemanth and Swati and his brother Arien

Ariea — who was born after Hemanth hit the 5-year mark of being cancer free — has grown up hearing of his father’s days of chemotherapy and hair loss. “I still remember my elder son Arien who was three at the time starting to cry after seeing his father completely bald,” said Swati. “We would tell these stories to Ariea and three years ago, he decided that he wanted to donate his hair.” He donated 25 inches of his hair.

Another participant was 10-year-old Hridhana Lalwani who was donating her hair for the fourth time. “She first donated her hair when she was three and since then, it is something she loves to passionately do,” said her mother, Heer. “It is great to be able to do something to spread smiles on people’s faces,” said Hridhana, a Grade 5 student at GEMS Modern Academy.

Hair for Hope

The initiative by cancer survivor Premi Mathew was supported by and held at Novotel Hotel, Dubai World Trade Centre. Premi, the founder of Hair for Hope India, said hair signified dignity for cancer patients.

“It is really heartbreaking when patients lose their hair,” she said. “The way people look and behave with these patients is sometimes pathetic. I know there are many who don’t want to step outside without a wig. This campaign is an effort to give some sort of comfort and dignity back to cancer patients and bring a smile to their faces.”

Hair donation is part of Premi’s campaign to get more people to conduct self-examinations to catch cancer early. “I like to rope in children and get them to ask their mothers to get examined regularly,” she said. “The first time I felt a lump, I checked with my husband who is a surgeon. He immediately understood the gravity of the situation and made me get a biopsy. That is the reason why I am still alive. Unfortunately, a lot of patients, as well as doctors, adopt a wait-and-watch attitude towards cancer. That is what I want to change. Time is of the essence in the case of cancer, and I want women to take charge of their health.”

Volunteering for a cause

Sisters Dhanvi and Trisha have been volunteering for Hair for Hope since 2012 and have donated their hair several times. The cause became personal for them when they lost their grandmother to cancer after a long battle. “We have done campaigns in schools and salons to get more people to donate hair and get them to ask their mothers to do breast cancer examination,” said Dhanvi. “It is a cause we care about very deeply, especially after losing our grandmother.”

Dhanvi and Trisha with their mother
Dhanvi and Trisha with their mother

Another donor at the event was teenager Ayaan Singh who has been growing his hair for 1.5 years. He said it wasn’t an easy task. “Sometimes people would make fun of me for my long hair,” he said. “But it didn’t matter because I knew that I had a cause.”

For Ayaan, the donation was a way of honoring his late grandfather who lost his life to cancer. “By donating my hair I aim to provide a small measure of comfort and confidence to those who are currently undergoing chemotherapy and experiencing hairloss,” he said.


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