Jasmine Sorensen is reminded every day of the vicious attack she suffered at the hands of a family friend’s dog nearly 20 years ago.
The 26-year-old Saanich woman has massive scars on her wrist and legs from skin grafts, and much of her scalp is bald.
She was a smiling 6-year-old in pigtails when her life changed. In July 2001 she had her scalp ripped off by a dog at their family friend’s property in Victoria.
“I slipped in front of it and he grabbed onto both of my ponytails and obviously being a pit bull he didn’t let go,” she said.
CHEK News interviewed a 9-year-old Sorensen and her mother about the attack in July 2004, shortly after Sorensen’s 12th surgery.
“I thought one of the kids dumped a bucket of red paint on her because all I could see were her eyes,” Jasmine’s mom Samantha Pettifer said at the time.
Jasmine’s wish back then was simple: “I just want to be like all the other people,” the 9-year-old said.
Instead, the 26-year-old says every day is a struggle. Along with the emotional trauma of the dog attack, she says people’s stares and comments have taken a toll on her mental health.
“It’s something that I’ve always struggled with and people have always made fun of me for it so I just feel like I’ve missed out on that opportunity of being a girl,” she said.
Sorensen says the cost for hair transplant surgery is more than $25,000 and despite multiple applications, she says MSP won’t cover the cost because they deem it cosmetic.
Clearly, she says, they haven’t walked a day in her shoes.
“I want to be able to heal and I want to feel like I’m a contributing factor to today’s society without being judged or criticized or discriminated against certain things,” she said.
A Vancouver doctor recently offered Sorensen a free $4,000 trial of a transplant on a small section of her head and it worked. Proof Sorensen says she could have a full head of hair again if only she could find a way to cover the cost.
She hopes the province will hear her and change the rules so that people who require hair repair after suffering trauma or violence like her, can get the help they need.