Local parents who have children with an Illinois birth injury often ask the basic question, “Why my family?” These sorts of accidents-particularly when they are caused by medical malpractice-seem arbitrary and capricious. There doesn’t seem to by any rhyme or reason to certain birth injuries or defects, and those families whose children are afflicted with certain ailments often struggle to understand the meaning of it all.
This is perhaps most apparent in cases like the one discussed in a recent Pioneer Press story where twins were born with one being completely healthy and the other being inflicted with cerebral palsy. It seems particularly cruel to consider that both children, born at essentially the same time, will have completely different challenges, abilities, goals, and struggles throughout their lives. There are no easy answers to questions about the ultimate meaning and purpose in these situations. All that families can do is take each day as it comes and work toward the future, instead of dwelling on the past.
The inspirational Pioneer Press story explains how the two brothers-one with cerebral palsy-grew up together and bonded even though they each faced different challenges. One of the brothers happens to be well-known actor Ashton Kutcher. His twin brother, Mike, recently gave an inspirational speech to a group of high school students about what life was like growing up with cerebral palsy with a brother who was completely healthy.
Mike Kutcher explained that he was born shortly after his brother, weighing six pounds less, becoming over-oxygenated while in the womb. As the boys got older, their mother noticed that Mike was more sluggish than Ashton. Eventually Mike was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy. From an early age he had trouble with physical tasks on the right side of his body. He is 80% deaf in his left ear and has had two cataract surgeries. At age 13 he discovered that his heart was giving out. Three weeks later his heart went out. His parents were faced with either letting him go or trying a heart pump that might extend his life by 48 hours. They chose the pump. Amazingly, 24 hours later a donor heart arrived. The transplant took. Even though the transplant was supposed to last seven years, he has so far survived 20 years with it.
However, despite all of this, Mike insists that he works hard not to use his disability as an excuse not to reach for his goals. He explains his life philosophy today, “He will try. Sometimes, he’ll miss. Other times, he’ll succeed.” Trying is 90% of the battle.
Growing up following a birth injury of any kind is difficult. There is no way around that. That is particularly true for those with combination physical and cognitive impairments, like cerebral palsy. However, as this story explains, and our Illinois cerebral palsy attorneys appreciate, one isn’t destined to any future based on the challenges they face at birth. Every child has the potential to do great things and impact the lives of those around them, no matter what challenges they face. What matter is what families do after the birth to give their loved one the best chance possible to grow, learn, and reach their potential. We remain proud of the work that we do helping families in these situations ensure that their children have access to the full range of support services necessary to live fulfilling lives.
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