Canada’s 1st Black female interventional cardiologist has doll created in her likeness

: "It was at 40 years old that I really embraced my textures of hair," says Clara Lewis, founder of Brown Diva Dolls. Her company will be honouring Canada's first Black female interventional cardiologist with her own doll. Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed reports

By Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed

As Black History Month kicks off, Canada’s first Black female interventional cardiologist Dr. Alexandra Bastiany speaks about barriers Black men and women face when it comes to health care.

Bastiany collaborated with Brown Diva Dolls for a doll created in her likeness.

“I’m so excited because this is going to be something that little girls and little boys are going to play with and they’re going to see themselves in that doll,” said Dr. Bastiany.

“So when I look at that doll personally, I don’t see myself. I see all the other kids, my niece, my nephews who will see that becoming a doctor, and becoming someone important is something that is possible.”

Dr. Alexandra Bastiany. (Credit: Alexandra Bastiany/provided)

The doll was made possible thanks to the founder of Brown Diva Dolls, Clara Lewis. The social worker with 28 years of experience says she aims to inspire young girls with the dolls by allowing them to have something to look up to.

“I can see the low self esteem on young girls and I wanted to do something that will help them to see themselves in some dolls and to help Caucasians to be in contact with differences from their early years,” said Lewis.

“It was at 40 years old that I really embraced my difference, my textures of hair. When I was younger, I used to put chemical products to adjust and to look like my friends at school.

“And if I had a doll like a Brown Diva Dolls with curly hair, and dark skin, I think that it wasn’t going to be at 40, that I will be comfortable with with myself.”

Brown Diva Dolls founder Clara Lewis holding a doll. (Credit: Brown Diva Dolls/Clara Lewis/provided)

Bastiany says the doll is important as, “approximately 10 per cent of women who have a heart attack have their symptoms unrecognized. So this is an atrocious number and it needs to change. Being a woman, being Indigenous, being Black, you know, puts you in a position where you’re not necessarily getting the care that, for instance, a white man would get,” she said

“In general, Black people have a higher risk of stroke and certain risk factors that put them at higher risk of heart disease and stroke disease. So things like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and these are genetic risk factors as well.

“But being Black as well, being a female as well is another layer of risk because women have to have different risk factors as some things that are not necessarily recognized. So they don’t necessarily recognize their symptoms, so they’re not aware of their symptoms. So they get to the hospital. They’re not necessarily recognized by the physicians as well. And then on top of that, they receive less quality treatment than their counterpart Caucasian patients.”

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