Celebrate the Extraordinary Achievements of People with Down Syndrome and Other Disabilities
By National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) on March 14, 2018
In 2018, people with Down syndrome and other disabilities are celebrating extraordinary achievements. They are graduating high school with their peers, attending postsecondary programs, enjoying meaningful careers, and living long, healthy and productive lives. NDSS works on behalf of all individuals with Down syndrome across the lifespan. However, challenges remain, as the following story illustrates.
One year ago, James Wellman, a 27-year-old man with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism who needed a life-saving kidney transplant, met with a leading transplant surgeon in California. Following the meeting, the surgeon said to James and his family, “James’ IQ is not high enough to understand this; I will not do the procedure.” Devastated, James’ parents, Jim and Kathleen Wellman, reached out to the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to seek out a doctor who would allow James into a transplant program near their home in order to save his life.
NDSS leveraged its local connections and helped the Wellman family find a local doctor who was able to get James on a kidney transplant list. The doctors who worked with James studied lists of potential donors in order to provide the care that James deserved. During the screening process, the Wellmans learned that James’ brother was a match. They were thrilled, but the joy was short-lived. James’ brother had undiagnosed, early onset diabetes and would not be able to continue with the screenings. Disappointed and worried, the family felt it was back at square one.
In May 2017, a local TV station reached out to the NDSS with a request to share James’ story in their local community. James and his family were attending an MLB baseball game when our NDSS team reluctantly pulled the family from their seats for the interview! After the segment aired the following day, their local hospital received a stream of inquiries from potential donors who were willing to help save James’ life! The very first individual to begin testing, who has no connection to the Down syndrome community was a match. James received a new kidney from this donor in January 2018 and is making an excellent recovery!
While his story is inspiring, it is worth considering that many individuals with Down syndrome are not as fortunate. Discrimination by medical professionals—the people who are supposed to save lives—is still prevalent in our own country and abroad. Your support donation, through workplace giving programs and the Combined Federal Campaign, helps us in our advocacy efforts as the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.
With your donation, we will continue to advocate for this life-saving intervention is a right for everyone – not just a few. Please make a gift to support James and the NDSS mission as the leading human rights organization for individuals with Down syndrome!
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