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It Is Down Syndrome Day!

An Extra Chromosome. An Extra Dose of Joy!

More than thirty years ago, as a young medical intern, I assisted in the care of a newborn baby girl, who had been abandoned by her birth mother, and whom I named Nathalie. I wanted to adopted her in spite of her many health problems frequently seen in those born with Down Syndrome. At the end, a much older, and married, nurse who had taken care of Nathalie and fallen in love with her as I had, convinced me that she and her husband could give the baby a much better care than I could.

My acquaintance with DS came early in life. In my teenage years, one of my best friends had a baby brother born with the syndrome. I loved to play with that baby every time I visited their home, which was often. He was always so happy and smiling.

Then, sixteen years ago, my family received our own little angel. As a matter of fact, the day she was born, I was serving in the Los Angeles Temple when the Spirit whispered to me that that was indeed what she was, “an angel,” granted, a mischievous one, but still an angel.

At sixteen, she is prompt to say she is not a little girl anymore but counts Barney, the dinosaur, among her best friends still. She loves to pose for pictures and give kisses even in her sleep. Nothing equals the feeling of being waken up by her arms around you and after showering you with wet kisses, saying in a sleepy voice, “It’s just me, tia Patty.”

Down Syndrome is still clouded with negative connotations, though. Pregnant women are encouraged to abort such children and if they do not, people around them judged them, feel duty bound to feel sorry for them, or shun them.

There is nothing Down in Down Syndrome, folks. Children with DS are able to go to school and learn, to sing and dance, to work, but especially, they are uniquely endowed with the sweetest spirits you will ever encounter. They are quick to forgive, and to trust. They are full of empathy and will cry if they see you cry. They are innocent and naive in some instances and yet so mature in others. They radiate positive emotions, joy, trust, empathy, faith. They will know when you need a hug and give it to you without asking. But most importantly, they know how to love, and they love without limits.

So, today in the Down Syndrome International Day, I want to express my love and appreciation to all the Nathalies, Panchitos, and Angelas in the world, and others like them. To you and your amazing parents and families, thank you for your example and your love, for making the world a better one, for teaching us how we should behave towards others. I for one am listening and I love you back!

This is just my opinion...

As a single woman, a Mormon and a western/ Chinese doctor.

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