On March 21, World Down Syndrome Day is observed in many places throughout the world– including Israel. The date–3/21–represents the 3 copies of chromosome 21 that are unique to people with Down syndrome. As we have in the past, Hadassah initiated and organized a day-long conference to examine our medical and moral responsibility to the population of people with Down syndrome.
About 350 professionals–and some parents–came to Hadassah-Mt. Scopus to participate in the packed program that included professional and personal presentations on a broad range of medical, educational, social and rehabilitation issues. The theme of the conference, “Independent Living,” addressed the complex challenges involved from a variety of perspectives, among them the importance of education and the right to sexuality and parenting.
“People with Down Syndrome are becoming increasingly more independent and living longer and more fulfilling lives,” says Dr. Ariel Tenenbaum, Head of Hadassah’s National Center for Down Syndrome. “The conference was designed to highlight the latest developments in the field – the progress being made in prenatal testing, new technology, advances in early intervention and especially the promising results of clinical, genetic and biological research.”
In her initial article on the conference, Jerusalem Post Health and Science reporter Judy Siegel-Itzkovich described an important research breakthrough that was presented at the conference. It is available on the Internet: http://www.jpost.com/Health/Article.aspx?id=213957. I know you will find it – and the extensive coverage to follow on April 10 – interesting and exciting.
As I looked out at the crowded auditorium at Hadassah-Mt. Scopus, I thought about the difference Hadassah makes for children with Down syndrome and their families – and about all the other children with chronic diseases we treat in our Elie Douer and Family Center for Pediatric Genetic and Chronic Diseases. The only one its kind in Israel and one of a few in the world, the Center and this conference are outstanding examples of the pioneering ethos that pervades our Medical Center. They are tangible expressions of our continuing commitment to work toward a brighter and healthier future for all our patients – through comprehensive and compassionate medical care and outstanding research.