Teen Born Without Leg Donates Hundreds Of Barbies With Prosthetic Legs For Kids Like Her

Photo: WWLP
Who Is Chloe Newman? New Details On Teen Born Without Leg Who Donated Hundreds Of Barbies With Prosthetic Legs

Chloe Newman has worn a prosthetic limb her whole life. Born with a congenital limb difference, she has been getting prosthetics from Shriners Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services every year for as long as she can remember. Now the teenager found a touching way to give something back to the hospital that helped her and the young patients who share her experience. 

In 2019, Mattel released a new Barbie in the Fashionista Collection that has a prosthetic leg. Chloe heard about the doll and immediately felt a flash of excitement. She didn't have many options for toys that looked like her when she was younger and she instinctively knew the other kids at Shriners would be excited to see a doll that represented their lives. 

Chloe and her mother decided they wanted to see how many of the dolls they could collect to send to Shriners for the kids being helped there. They put out a call on social media asking their friends and family to grab any they happened to see while they were out shopping. “If you’re out shopping, if you see five [dolls]. Get them and I’ll reimburse you,” the post read, reported People. Soon the donations started to pour in. They exceeded their goal and even Mattel, the maker of Barbie, chipped in to give dolls to the kids at Shriners.

Who is Chloe Newman? Read on for the inspiring story. 

1. Who is Chloe?

Chloe Newman is 18 years old and has been using a prosthetic leg her whole life. Originally born in Kazakhstan, Chloe was adopted by an American couple as a baby. She grew up in Mechanicsburg, New York but she has been receiving her prosthetics at Shriners’ Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services in Springfield, Massachusetts. She gets a new prosthetic every year to accommodate her growing body and the hospital has been a big part of her life. She speaks fondly of her primary doctor there, Brock McConkey, who has been treating her most of her life. "[H]e’s been a big part of my life. He’s the one who has made my legs my whole life,” Newman said to WWLP.

2. Amniotic Band Syndrome

Chloe has Amniotic Band Syndrome, a condition that occurs before birth. The USC Benioff Children's Hospital says the syndrome occurs when strands of the inner layer of the amniotic sac separate and become entangled with the growing fetus. There's no known cause for the syndrome and its effects vary widely. The mildest cases affect fingers and toes; the bands wrap around the digits and can result in amputation or syndactyly of the fingers or toes. Syndactyly is when fingers or toes become fused together or webbed. It can be treated with surgery after the baby is born. In more serious cases, the strands wrap around a whole limb and lead to deformities like a clubfoot. It can also cut off blood supply to the limb and result in amputation. 

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3. A doll like me

When Chloe heard about a new Barbie doll with a prosthetic leg, her first thought was how much other kids with limb differences would like them. “I think [the patients] would feel better about themselves,” she told WWLP. “That they would see, ‘Wow, they are making a Barbie like me, so why should I be ashamed of myself if there’s now toys like me?’” She made a plan to collect 100 of the dolls to donate to kids at Shriners.

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4. A doll donation drive

She put out a call on social media for her friends to buy any of the dolls they happened to see, offering to pay them back for the cost of the Barbie. Before she knew it, friends and family had donated 400 of the dolls. Even Mattel, the maker of Barbie got in on the action. When they heard about what Chloe was doing, they sent 200 additional dolls. 

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Chloe collected hundreds of Barbies.

5. Differently-abled Barbies

The Barbie with the prosthetic is part of a wider line of the iconic dolls. The Fashionista Collection, which launched in 2016, diversified Barbie in response to long-standing criticism about her singular body shape. The new line created several new body types as well as adding new hair textures, eye colors and skin tones. A Barbie in a wheelchair has been one of the most requested doll varieties according to Mattel so they finally added that to the roster of Fashionistas this year. They designed a wheelchair to resemble the type used by people with permanent disabilities. The Barbie with the prosthetic was the result of a collaboration with 13-year-old Jordan Reeves.  Jordan is the co-founder of "Born Just Right" whose mission is to help kids with physical disabilities, including limb differences and create toys and play opportunities that are as inclusive as possible. 

"For 60 years, Barbie has been a reflection of culture and fashion and that is key to the brand’s continued relevance," Kim Culmone, Global Head of Design for Barbie, told Good Morning America when they launched the new dolls. "This year our Barbie line will include dolls reflecting physical disabilities in order to better represent the people and the world kids see around them." 

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6. Shared with kids around the country

The Shriners Hospital put out a press release talking about Chloe's generous act. There were enough dolls donated that they can distribute them to patients at their other prosthetic centers across the country. "The donated dolls will serve as tools in therapeutic education and medical play for kids facing amputation — and their siblings — to help explain their situation," the release says. "This generous gift will be shared with Shriners Hospitals for Children’s 16 POPS locations around the U.S."

Chloe's mom couldn't be happier with the way her daughter's project turned out. “The whole point was to give back to Shriners because we’ve received so much,” Cindy Newman.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.