Nova Scotia

Taya was born with 3 thumbs, and she's been looking for a special friend just like her

A Nova Scotia mother turned to Facebook to find her daughter a friend who, like her, has three thumbs.

Nova Scotia mother turned to Facebook to find her daughter a friend who understands

Taya was born with an extra thumb. Six months ago she asked her mother to find her a friend who understands 'her special thumb.' (Alisha Oakes/Facebook)

It's been nearly six months since Taya first asked her mother to find her a friend with three thumbs.

To find a friend who is unique — and yet also just like her.

"And we managed to find somebody, didn't we?" Alicia Oakes says, nudging her daughter.

Taya, 6, smiles so hard you hear it in her voice when she says yes.

In 10 days it will be her birthday but, before then, the Dartmouth, N.S., girl hopes to meet the little boy who shares the same condition: being born with an extra thumb.

Taya, 6, was born with a duplicated thumb and chose not to have reconstructive surgery. Through social media, her mom just found her a friend nearby who has the same condition. (Alisha Oakes/Facebook)

About one in 3,000 children are born with thumb duplication, according to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. Many will have reconstructive surgery before age two, making the condition more rare in older children — and less likely that Taya and her family would find someone who shares what she calls her natural advantage at Mario Kart.

But Oakes expanded her search by posting Taya's request to Facebook.

"She is so strong and confident, but often I wonder how her school years might play out," Oakes wrote in her post.

She said they were looking for "someone we could sit down with, have a play date, grab an ice cream and go for a walk. It doesn't matter to us; she would just like to have that connection."

Wyatt's mom responded to Alicia Oakes's search. He and Taya are expecting to meet for the first time this week. (Alana Michelle/Facebook)

And then Wyatt's mother got in touch. The pair are about the same age, Oakes says, and their homes are within a 30-minute drive.

When she learned that her mother had found someone like her, Taya "hugged me really tight and burst into tears," Oakes says.

The first thing Taya plans to tell her new friend is: "I really like your double thumbs."

Complex procedure

Taya's parents didn't learn about her double thumbs until she was born. When it came time to make a decision about surgery — a complex procedure that sometimes involves fusing parts of the two digits — Oakes says she didn't want to make a choice without her daughter's consent.

"She chose to keep it," Oakes says. "We had the discussion many times and I like to keep an open mind and communication for her to always let me know if it's bothering her, but it doesn't hold her back."

Taya agrees.

She plays soccer and takes martial arts classes. She's collecting colouring books, toys and other items for kids who are patients at Halifax's IWK Health Centre. And she plans to be a vet when she grows up.

Taya loves her 'special thumb' but says she feels sad when other kids are frightened by her hand. (Alisha Oakes/Facebook)

Beyond bullying

There are people who ask her questions about her hand and there have been a few instances of bullying at school. But Taya is aglow at the thought of having a friend who understands why she loves her "special thumb."

"I always want to keep it, because I'm always special," she says.

"And I can text quicker when I'm, like, 18."

With files from Maritime Noon