A 9-year-old girl from New York who was denied entrance to a store last year over the type of face covering she wearing received the generous gift of an ear surgery Friday in Beverly Hills after the doctor learned of her story.
One year ago, Alexis LaGrega was denied entrance to a Staten Island Disney store because she was wearing a neck gaiter instead of a surgical mask, her family said.
The store asked LaGrega to leave, even after her mother explained that she had a congenital deformity called Microtia and does not have a fully formed right ear, making her unable to wear surgical face masks.
The store's employees cited its policy that required ear loops on all face coverings. After the incident, a Disney spokesperson told PIX11:
"We are always focused on the health and safety of our Cast Members and Guests. At all of our Disney stores we have implemented a number of enhanced measures, including a face covering requirement. During these unprecedented times we all have a shared responsibility to do our part. We regret if Guests are disappointed."
At the time, Walt Disney World face mask guidelines, which applied at its stores, stated that neck gaiters were "not acceptable face coverings."
The Small Wonders Foundation, which helps children born with facial differences get reconstructive surgery, heard about LaGrega's story and reached out to the family offering information about different options available for her, financial support, and encouragement.
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"It was weird, but cool at the same time," LaGrega said of seeing her new ear for the first time on Friday.
Reinisch explained that the new ear comes from a polyethylene mold covered with tissue taken from under the scalp. The swelling is expected to go down in a few months, Reinisch added.
Holly LaGrega, Alexis' mother, said she never thought this day would come.
"It's mind-blowing," her mother said. "You hear about families where these things happen. I never thought it would happen for us."
Alexis will soon be able to loop a mask around her ears.
"I'm happy," Alexis said. "Like really happy."