Last night we had our dear friends, Mike and Nancy Litteken over for dinner. The kids splashed in the pool, the dad's cannon-balled the kids, and the weather was just about perfect. That weather is why there are 36 million people in California (note: there are 31.7 million people in ALL of Canada, the largest land mass in the world).
Anyway, we barbecued some steaks, shared an old bottle of wonderfully good cabernet, and enjoyed greatly each other's company. We have known Mike and Nancy for all of our almost 17 years of marriage, and I have known Nancy for a bit longer, when we worked together on this. Good friends are a blessing indeed.
Mike and Nancy have an 8 year old daughter named Molly, who loves life, and never seems to hold still for a moment. She is always the center of attention, and she loves to make people laugh. Molly has Down Syndrome. Molly's parents have big dreams for her life, as all we parents do for our kids. (For a girl who is realizing her dreams, and is pictured on this post, go peek here, and take a look around while you are at it, it will do your soul good)
As dinner was finished, and twilight filled the sky, Nancy and Mike told us of their time last weekend at the National Down Syndrome Congress in Anaheim. The weekend was a time of gathering, learning, sharing, and being granted hope for families on the journey with Down Syndrome. Our conversation was rich and fascinating. Nancy and I are so glad we know the Littekens and that Molly has swimming lessons in our pool every week.
We learned of something last night that is amazing and outrageous all at once. I have to tell you about it. It seems that there is a problem in the medical community that is nearly beyond belief. Nancy and Mike shared with us that they heard a speech by Dr. William Bronston, indicating that a large majority of the people with disabilities interviewed regarding organ transplantation believed they were subject to "wholly illegal, explicit and de facto discrimination" regarding organ transplant availability. The National Work Group on Disability and Transplantation, founded by Dr. Bronston, reported that "survey results indicate that policy and practices in the transplantation field have resulted in effectively excluding persons with intellectual and other disabilities." The study group attributed this to the improper use of "psychosocial" criteria employed in qualifying transplant candidates and the lack of awareness training, which serves to perpetuate express and de facto discrimination. To read more, go here, and here - this one will make you more upset.
Ok, I know that I have gone on long here, but I think the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence says something about "all men are created equal". Not to mention, um, well, what the Scriptures tell us! In closing, I am not sure whether we should all be writing our congressmen about this, or writing letters to the editor, or forming a PAC. But can we agree that something is very wrong in our culture if disabled people are not treated as full equals?