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Beverly Hills Surgeon Gives Girl Denied Entry to Disney Store a New Ear

A 9-year-old girl from New York once denied entrance to a store over the mask she was wearing during the pandemic received a generous gift of free surgery Friday in Beverly Hills after the doctor heard 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 told Alexis 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 face masks with loops.

A Disney spokesperson told PIX11 after the incident occurred:

“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.” 

Walt Disney World face mask guidelines, which applied at its stores, stated that neck gaiters were “not acceptable face coverings” when the PIX11 article was written.

The Small Wonders Foundation, which helps children born with facial differences get reconstructive surgery, heard Alexis’ story and reached out to her to give her an attached right ear.

Two weeks ago, Dr. John Reinisch, a pediatric plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, performed the surgery.

“It was weird but cool at the same time,” Alexis said regarding her reaction to the first time seeing her new ear 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 said.

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.”

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