Bendigo specialist general practitioner, co-founder of Gowns for Doctors and 2021 Victorian Australian of the Year Local Hero award recipient Kirby White will be immortalised as one of the most iconic toys in the world - Barbie.
Dr White has been recognised by Mattel as one of six female medical practitioners in the world to highlight with a one-of-a-kind Barbie doll in their likeness to pay tribute to the real-life heroes of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr White co-founded the Gowns for Doctors initiative which has created more than 7000 re-usable gowns for GP clinics around Australia when personal protective equipment ran short during when the pandemic hit.
Barbie will donate $5 for each eligible Barbie doctor, nurse and medical doll sold in Australia throughout the campaign period, which ends on August 10, to Gowns for Doctors.
"This donation from Barbie will mean many more doctors across Australia will be able to receive a box of re-usable protective gowns and many parents and children will be able to seek care from their doctor," Dr White said.
"Australia is once again facing increasing COVID-19 case numbers and this donation will allow Gowns for Doctors to upscale our support to those clinics in need."
Dr White said she felt honoured to have her very own Barbie doll.
"Seeing a Barbie in my likeness was a creation I never could have imagined," she said. "For a moment she transformed me back into the clinic.
"She was me, wearing my gown, doing the job I love. I really look forward to bringing her into my clinic to share with my patients.
Growing up in the '90s Barbie was an icon amongst my friends. I have fond memories as a little girl being creative and setting scenes for my barbies.Dr Kirby White
"I'm excited to introduce Barbie to my two-year-old daughter Stella and watch her imagination grow."
The GP Clinic founder is one of six women in the world to be recognised by Mattel as part of the company's #ThankYouHeroes signature program.
The other medical practitioners include United States' emergency room nurse Amy O'Sullivan who treated the first COVID-19 patient at the Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn, New York and frontline worker Dr Audrey Cruz from Las Vegas, Nevada, who joined forces during the pandemic with other Asian-American physicians to fight racial bias and discrimination.
Canadian psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto Dr Chika Stacy Oriuwa advocated against systemic racism in healthcare, which has been further highlighted by the pandemic, Professor of vaccinology Sarah Gilbert led the development of the University of Oxford vaccine in the United Kingdom and biomedical researcher, Dr Jaqueline Goes de Jesus was credited for leading the sequencing of the genome of a COVID-19 variant in Brazil.
"Being honoured among this group of inspirational women makes me incredibly proud," Dr White said.
"I am delighted to be able to share my story in the hope that our youngest generation of girls will believe their dreams are a possibility.
"Women make up less than a quarter of students studying STEM in Australia. Role models in STEM are incredibly important in demonstrating to young girls that any career is possible.
"Inspiring minds at a young age when kids have a brilliant imagination will hopefully lead to brilliant careers."
With over 200 careers, Barbie celebrates role models to show girls they can be anything and senior vice-president and global head of Barbie and Dolls at Mattel Lisa McKnight said it's important for young children to see what can make a difference in the world.
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"We know the pandemic has been felt directly by children across the globe," she said.
"As the number one doll brand, we take great pride in leveraging Barbie's platform to teach children about role models who are making a positive impact in our world, especially those who rose to the occasion during this challenging time.
"Our hope is to nurture and ignite the imaginations of children playing out their own storyline as heroes."
The Dr Kirby White Barbie is a one-of-a-kind doll and cannot be purchased.
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