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Monday, April 12, 2010

Touchy Topic tuesday: Surgeries for Deaf/Blind Children

NEWSFLASH: Giveaway coming up!!!
I will announce it tomorrow, and I am hoping very sincerely for an excellent turnout. It will be something that is very important to me, that is very close to my heart and that I am passionate about.

Think hard friends! See if you can guess!!
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Welcome to Touchy Topic Tuesdays!
Surgeries for Deaf and Blind children

Movies kind of rule my life(metaphor) Okay, not as much as music does, but I believe that the secret of happiness is trapped on the silver screen.


For example, we learn from horror movies that you should never run up the stairs or down the stairs, and you should never split up. Ever. All you have to do is make it to sunlight. And then you're safe.

From thrillers, we learn that the government is spying on us, and if you kill someone in self defense, you'd better empty your bullets into them or they'll grab your ankle. Even after you do that, keep an eye on them until the authorities show up, or they'll grab your ankle.

From Sci-Fi movies, we learn that where there is corn, there are aliens, and never trust the Secretary of State.

From comedies we learn that everything that is wrong with us is okay, because it's wrong with everyone else too. If it weren't, it wouldn't be funny.

From natural disaster movies, we learn that we're killing our planet, that it will get back at us, and once again, we are reminded to never trust a Secretary of State.

There is nothing to learn from a romance, except that you married the wrong guy.

Yes, I've learned many a good life lesson from watching movies.

One life lesson started in a 10th grade sign language class when we watched several movies about deaf people.

Among the movies we watched, one stands out to me called "Bridge to Silence."

Essentially, the synopsis is about a deaf couple who have a hearing six year old daughter. They are all in a terrible car crash where the father dies, and the mother and daughter survive. The hearing mother of the deaf woman files a law suit to get custody of her hearing granddaughter because she feels that her daughter, being deaf, isn't fit to care for her.

This has always stuck with me, and the unfairness makes me seethe. How could anyone do that to their child? What kind of bitterness could turn a mother against her child in such a way?

The movie stuck. The lesson stuck.

And recently I saw the movie The Family Stone, in which the gay, deaf son and his partner are talking about adopting more children, possibly deaf children as well. His brother's girlfriend, a control freak from New York played by Sara Jessica Parker continually puts her foot in her mouth through this whole conversation as she says over and over again that she wouldn't understand their choice to adopt a deaf child because SHE would want a 'healthy' child.

Studies have shown that many couples with disabilities, such as deafness, blindness, dwarfism, and so on, if given the chance to use science to rid their future children of the genes that cause these disabilities, would turn it down.

I am blessed with children that are healthy in all respects. They can see, hear, think, walk, and talk- and they have the sass mouths to prove it.

Six months ago, my youngest daughter had a television fall on her head, and her right inner ear was cracked and fractured. For awhile we faced the possibility of our precious, previously perfect daughter suffering hearing loss before the age of two.

Of course, the movies I had seen surfaced once again, and I vowed that I'd do anything to help her. We would all learn sign language, if needed- my husband, my children and I. All of us.

One of the things that always broke my heart about the movie "Bridge to Silence" as well as some personal experiences I had with a set of hearing-impaired twin sisters I met at the deaf community in my hometown was that their parents made them learn their English language, despite their disability and their struggle, yet the parents never even attempted to learn their child's language. The language that should be native to them, and the language that they could understand without any misunderstandings.

I refused to do that to my daughter.

Through many miracles, my daughter is still perfectly healthy in every way. She has recovered with 0% hearing loss, and I am so desperately thankful for that.

A few days ago, my children and I were watching reruns of the Brady Bunch (which Lilly calls "The Gravy Bunch") and afterwords, Little House On The Prairie came on. It was an episode in which one of Laura's friends, a blind girl, is given a surgery on her eyes to give her vision. She doesn't want to do it at first, but then decides to do it, and she is able to see for the first time.

Again, my life lessons surfaced and the the questions arose. The theories about children-or even adults- who have a disability (deafness and blindness, specifically) and their ability to be 'healed'.

Now, I don't by any means think that a person who is deaf or blind is 'unhealthy'. But my question here is: Is it ethical to give a blind or deaf child a surgery to correct their disability? Many deaf or blind people say no. That they were born that way for a reason.

And yet, I have to admit that if I had a blind or deaf child, in addition to do everything I could to involve myself in their own world, I would want my child to hear things, or see things. I would want them to hear me sing to them, as my other three children enjoy so often. I would want them to see me with their eyes and know that I'm their mommy. To see all the colors of the world, and to be, for lack of a better word, 'normal'.

And, yes, I know that 'normal' is relative.

But what parent wouldn't get a child with a tumor or cancer any surgery that would save them?

Deafness and blindness is not a life or death situation, but ethical or not, I would probably feel that, given the opportunity, I would take that leap and give my child their sense.

For the record, I would not feel that it was unethical for a parent to choose not to give their child a surgery to dissolve their disability.

What about YOU. What do you think? Are surgeries to correct a disability ethical or unethical? Would you do it? Why or why not?

10 comments:

Casey said...

Two of our daughters are legally blind and have other eye issues. Our oldest one with eye issues we did decide to have surgery on her because it would help her to see even better than what she was seeing. The surgery was harder on us than her and within a few days we could tell she could see better. I couldn't imagine not letting her have the surgery. I mean we knew it would help her so why not. If I had a child with a tumor I would definitely get them help so why not help with hearing or eyesight?

S.I.F. said...

I don't think the surgery itself is unethical, but I do think it would be unethical to push it. I have to say that I would want my children to have every opportunity possible, but I wouldn't want anyone in the medical community pushing those options on us.

The JAMC Johnsons said...

I watched a documentary about this topic. It showed parents who wanted to have their children have the surgery, and members of the deaf community who felt it wasn't right. It was really interesting to see both points of view. I have to say, I would want to give my child a chance to hear or see, if I could. I don't consider it unethical at all. My older son has muscular dystrophy. There is no cure or help for it right now, but if I was ever given the chance to change that diagnosis through treatment or surgery, I would!

Keeslermom said...

Being deaf is not considered a disability in the deaf community. When deaf parents have a deaf child, they celebrate. With that in mind, would you do something that would exclude your child from his family and community, because it made him more acceptable to the rest of the world? Most hearing parents of deaf children do the cochlear implant (if available), while most deaf parents do not. They are proud of their deafness.

My son has Asperger's syndrome. It's part of who he is, part of his personality. If you took it away, he would not be the same kid. Sure, I want life to be easier for him, and we do whatever we can to accomplish that, but if you said you had a cure, I think I'd say "No thanks!". I like him this way! He's funny, unique, and has ideas and thoughts that would never occur to anyone else. Sure, it's a disability in certain circumstances, but it also gives him super powers in other areas. Would you give up super powers so you could be just another sheep in the flock?

Crystal said...

I have a deaf son, who was not born deaf, but lost his hearing from receiving antibiotics. We chose the cochlear implant surgery for him at 15 months of age. He is well adjusted, his speech is beautiful, he loves to sing and dance to music. We felt as parents it is our obligation to make available to him as many opportunities as possible. By giving him cochlear implants, he is able to be a part of the hearing world, or if he so chooses, someday he could take off his implants and totally be immersed in deaf culture. By giving our son implants, we've given him the freedom of choice.

Arizona Mamma said...

I actually have a hard time looking at this as if it were an ethical issue. I think as parents we want to present our children with every possible avenue to success. For each of us that may mean something different. For me, if one of my children couldn't hear or see I would absolutely take measures to correct it. While it may not make my child not "normal," it is indeed a disability...and I would want to present my children with every possible opportunity to succeed in whatever they choose. Not saying a deaf/blind person doesn't have every opportunity to succeed (look at Stevie Wonder), but it is more difficult.

You mentioned the tumor and what parent wouldn't remove it. Another example that comes to mind is twin siblings born conjoined. Do you leave them that way because that's the way they were born? Or, if possible, do you separate them to give them individual lives. They are afterall individuals. Again, I don't see anything unethical in it...whether the parent chooses to take corrective measures or not.

Christina said...

I think as a parent, it is our responsibility to help ensure that our children have every chance to succeed in life, now I know that being deaf or blind is not going to be detrimental to them, but I feel that if we have the option of giving our child the sense that they are without, WHY on earth wouldn't we?!?

Katherine said...

My aunt and cousin have retinitis pigmentosa, and they are both slowly going blind. No one knows how fast it will happen or what they should expect. Their vision can continue to worsen, it could stay how it is, or they could wake up tomorrow without any sight. I know that they are working to find a cure, and that if a cure was an option, they would certainly take it. Not to say that they haven't learned how to enjoy life in other beautiful ways with the challenges that they already face.

Lourie said...

I think it is all about personal choice, which as you know is a God given right. I also think if the child is old enough to take part in that decision making then yes...go for it...if that is something they want. Is it wrong to correct a disability, no I don't think so. I think that we are ever expanding in the medical field and there are lots of wonderful things out there.

Leandra Howry said...

Come pick you award up off my blog woman!

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