Wednesday, February 28, 2007

You go, Doug!

A telling picture and an excerpt from a story from the seMissourian in the Midwest. Since arriving at BIDMC, Dr. Hanto has also joined others around the country by being in the lead in carrying out liver and kidney transplantations for people infected with HIV.

The little girl on the television screen was brave and determined. She smiled and waved from her hospital bed before surgery at St. Louis Children's Hospital. Her family sat nervously in the waiting room as television news cameras captured 9-year-old Cindy Young's story.

Cindy's surgeon, Dr. Douglas Hanto, also believed Cindy deserved the best. "In this day and age, we cheapen life by saying some people are more entitled for certain types of health care than others," Hanto said on television. "Although Cindy has Down syndrome, she is still a very happy girl who leads a relatively normal life, and I think she deserves the best we can give her."

Before Cindy's surgery in 1987, a St. Louis television station interviewed Hanto, who is now the chief surgeon in the Division of Transplantation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "There have been cases when children with Down syndrome or other serious handicaps were allowed to die" because of debate over how far care for mentally or physically handicapped children should go, he said in the interview.

1 comment:

eeka said...

Great story!

I find some ableism inherent in the way the story is portrayed though. The case for giving the girl appropriate care is made by stating that she "lives a relatively normal life." But what if she didn't?

As someone who works with individuals with profound mental retardation, this is upsetting. These folks don't live a relatively normal life and really aren't "just like everyone else." The folks I work with are completely dependent for all aspects of their care, have minimal functional communication, and most have little or no independent movement of limbs.

They deserve respect and compassion and appropriate services because they're fellow human beings. Period.

It's great that this individual and others are speaking out about the rights of people with disabilities, but it should never be implied that these rights are dependent on someone's chances at being "normal" or being any sort of productive member of society.