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DOMINIC LAWSON: Why do doctors never have anything good to say about people with Downs?


Modern medicine can do what once looked like miracles. But it can also confront us with decisions that we would rather not face. That was the lesson I learned from a long interview with Olivia Buxton in the mail last Thursday.

At the age of 48, she is five months pregnant and says she feels "like the happiest woman in the world ever pregnant".

This was because she had aborted a pregnancy from identical twin girls 18 months earlier. Down syndrome was diagnosed in both. The diagnosing doctor was Professor Kypros Nicolaides of the Fetal Medicine Center on Harley Street.

Apparently, Professor Nicolaides discovered that one of the twins was "so poor" that she "may not survive much longer". I met Professor Nicolaides who is a highly innovative, if controversial, surgeon in the field.

Modern medicine can do what once looked like miracles. But it can also confront us with decisions that we would rather not face. That was the lesson I learned from a long interview in the mail last Thursday with Olivia Buxton (picture)

He was the doctor who treated Mandy Allwood, the woman who gave birth to octuplets in 1996 (none survived) and is referred to as the "Baby Saver" in newspaper profiles.

However, he has long been an advocate for more efficient and comprehensive screening for Down syndrome. And that's not the purpose of saving babies: on the contrary.

After talking to Professor Nicolaides, Olivia Buxton said she and her partner had decided to quit: “I wanted these girls so badly and yet we knew we couldn't go on with the pregnancy – and for the emotional wellbeing of our other children. & # 39;

At the age of 48, she is five months pregnant, but 18 months earlier she had terminated a pregnancy with identical twin girls. Professor Kypros Nicolaides (pictured) of the Fetal Medicine Center on Harley Street had made the diagnosis that one of the twins was "so bad" that she "may not survive much longer," which led Olivia to opt for a resignation decide

At the age of 48, she is five months pregnant, but 18 months earlier she had terminated a pregnancy with identical twin girls. Professor Kypros Nicolaides (pictured) of the Fetal Medicine Center on Harley Street had made the diagnosis that one of the twins was "so bad" that she "may not survive much longer," which led Olivia to agree to resign decide

I wouldn't criticize her for this decision – it will have been the result of an excruciating discussion between her and her partner.

But when people say that they are quitting for the good of the unborn child themselves (and not just because they feel like they cannot cope with a disabled child), I wonder if that is true. Or if it is true, whether it is feared rather than factual.

I speak as the father of a young woman with Down syndrome. It sounds a bit silly to say that my daughter Domenica, who works part-time as a waitress at the Pavilion Gardens Cafe in Brighton, brings joy to everyone she meets, not just her parents. But it is true. Their sheer exuberance and love for life are contagious.

And this is far from unusual, as shown by an article published in 2011 in the American Journal of Medical Genetics ("Self-Perceptions of People with Down Syndrome").

Ignorant

After interviewing 300 people with Downs 12 and older, the authors concluded that “Nearly 99 percent of people with DS said they were satisfied with their lives, 97 percent liked who they were, and 96 percent liked how them look & # 39 ;.

You wouldn't get such a positive sense of self with a cross section of the total population. This is why I get so angry about the lazy phrase that people have Down syndrome.

Apart from everything else, it is not a disease. If so, Professor Nicolaides would undoubtedly be at the forefront of doctors trying to develop a "cure".

Unfortunately, almost the entire medical community has nothing good to say about people with Downs – and this can undoubtedly influence the decisions of parents-to-be.

I speak as the father of a young woman with Down syndrome. It sounds a little silly to say that my daughter Domenica, who works part-time as a waitress at the Pavilion Gardens Cafe in Brighton, brings joy to everyone she meets, not just her parents. But it is true

I speak as the father of a young woman with Down syndrome. It sounds a little silly to say that my daughter Domenica, who works part-time as a waitress at the Pavilion Gardens Cafe in Brighton, brings joy to everyone she meets, not just her parents. But it is true

This was clearly evident from a recent interview with Yvonne and Ellie Goldstein: Ellie, who has Downs, is used as a landmark model by Gucci.

Yvonne, her mother, contrasted Ellie's wonderful life with what she was told shortly after she was born 18 years ago: After some examinations, the counselor dangled her in his hands and said: “She has Down syndrome. She will never walk or talk or live a normal life. . . There are a couple of leaflets outside. & # 39;

Yvonne added, "Then a nurse came in, took one look at Ellie and said," The last woman who had one of these left her here. "We couldn't believe what we were hearing. & # 39;

I might because we received a similarly dire (and ignorant) medical prognosis when Domenica was born seven years earlier. But like Ellie, Domenica is very articulate, with a vast and still growing vocabulary.

Unfortunately, almost the entire medical profession has nothing good to say about people with Downs - and this can undoubtedly influence the decisions of parents-to-be. This was clearly evident from a recent interview with Yvonne and Ellie Goldstein: Ellie, who has Downs, is used as a landmark model by Gucci

Unfortunately, almost the entire medical community has nothing good to say about people with Downs – and this can undoubtedly influence the decisions of parents-to-be. This was clearly evident from a recent interview with Yvonne and Ellie Goldstein: Ellie, who has Downs, is used as a landmark model by Gucci

Of course, this is not the case for every person with Down syndrome: while some never acquire the use of the language. But does that mean that their life is not worth living? That they are allowed to live would only mean causing them "suffering"?

Identical twins with downs are very rare indeed. An interesting counterpoint to Olivia Buxton's experience, however, is 39-year-old American Rachael Prescott, who gave birth to identical Down daughters in 2018.

Her condition was found in the womb – and Prescott announced that doctors had asked her to terminate the pregnancy six times, citing the "hole in the heart" often associated with the condition.

Rachael Prescott gave birth to identical Down daughters in 2018

Rachael Prescott gave birth to identical Down daughters in 2018

She continued with the pregnancy, the twins' cardiac abnormality was corrected by today's routine surgery. . . and they are a very happy family now with Father Cody.

It really is time for the medical profession to stop pressuring parents-to-be to make decisions they should never make – or at least not without first getting the facts, fear and prejudice.

The world's greatest heroine whom we shamefully neglect

Robert Harris & # 39; latest novel, V2, is based on a forgotten episode of female calculating heroics in the fight against the Nazis. As Harris reported in Saturday's Mail, he was inspired by reading the obituary of a former WAAF officer, Eileen Younghusband, in 2016.

This mathematician had led a team in 1944 that, with the help of slide rules and knowledge of the parabolic trajectory of the V2 rockets, tried to find the location of the launch sites for these deadly weapons.

This story, in turn, provokes me to pay tribute to a remarkable British woman who is scandalously undervalued in this country and one of the thousands of London victims of the "doodlebugs".

Vera Menchik, born in 1906 to a Czech father and an English mother, was the woman's world chess champion. In addition, she was an uninterrupted Master from 1927 until her death in 1944

Vera Menchik, born in 1906 to a Czech father and an English mother, was the woman's world chess champion. In addition, she was an uninterrupted Master from 1927 until her death in 1944

On June 27, 1944, a V1 rocket destroyed 47 Gauden Road in south-west London. It was the home of 38 year old Vera Menchik, who lived with her mother and sister. All were killed instantly.

Vera, born in 1906 to a Czech father and an English mother, was the woman's world chess champion. In addition, she has been an uninterrupted champion since 1927, having successfully defended the title eight times, with a staggering total of 78 wins, four draws and a single lost game.

In short, no other woman came close to her from afar, and Russian world champion Alexander Alekhine remarked: “She is without a doubt a phenomenon. . . It is completely unfair to convince a recognized super-class player like Miss Menchik to defend her title year after year against very inferior players. & # 39;

More from Dominic Lawson for the Daily Mail …

Menchik was the only woman of her time – or an earlier one – to take part in tournaments for male grandmasters, where she defeated future world champion Max Euwe (twice) and eight-time US champion Samuel Reshevsky, among others.

Even so, she was a humble personality who self-deprecatingly declared, "I'm eccentric enough to be a chess addict." Their achievements are internationally recognized: The trophy for the women's event of the biennial chess Olympiad is called The Vera Menchik Cup.

The Czech Republic and the former Yugoslavia printed postage stamps to commemorate them. When this country launched postage stamps celebrating historic British women in 2008, Menchik was not only not one of them, she was never considered.

Her physical existence was destroyed by the Nazis, and not only that: the destruction of her home by the V-Bomb also meant that all of her trophies, scoresheets, and notebooks were destroyed. However, this is no reason why the only British world chess champion should be removed from our own history of female achievement.

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