Filed under: Inspirational Pro-life leaders, Pro-life, Quotes from Great Christians
Jérôme Jean Louis Marie Lejeune (Montrouge, France; June 13, 1926-April 3, 1994) was a French Catholic pro-life pediatrician and geneticist, best known for his discovery of the link of diseases to chromosome abnormalities. He developed the karotype, and discovered the link between inadequate intake of Folic Acid by pregnant women and neural tube defects.
Lejeune had made his career specializing in the treatment of children with Down’s syndrome. He discovered that children with Down’s syndrome have an extra copy (called a trisomy) of chromosome 21. He spent the remainder of his life researching a cure for Down syndrome. He said, “it would take less effort to find a cure for Down syndrome than to send a man to the moon.” He also diagnosed the first case of Cri du chat syndrome, or 5p deletion syndrome, in 1963.
In an article entitled Professor Jerome Lejeune a moving account of his last days can be found: “ On Good Friday , he confided to a priest who was giving him last rites : ‘I have never betrayed my faith. This is all that counts before God…’ He told his children who were asking him what he wished to bequeath to his little patients : ‘I don’t have much, you know… So, I have given them my life. And my life is all that I had.’ Then, moved to tears, he murmured, ‘O my God! I was supposed to have cured them, and I am leaving without having found … What will happen to them?’ Then, radiant with joy, he spoke to his loved ones: ‘My children, if I can leave you a message, this is the most important of all : we are in the hands of God. I have experienced this a number of times.’ ”
In her book,Life is a Blessing, Clara Lejeune (Jerome’s daughter) tells us that Pope John Paul II spoke these words after Jerome’s death on Easter Sunday to her sister Anouk: “Humanly speaking we need him so much. But maybe this is a gift he has given us for the Academy and for all this pro-life work. Didn’t Christ die on the cross to save us?”
On the surface it would seem that Dr. Lejeune had failed but in fact he kept hope alive – he spoke truth to the world that these children with Downs syndrome are precious and that we should continue to seek a cure. In an article in the July 6-12, 2008 issue of the National Catholic Register, entitled The Legacy of Jerome Lejeune and the Resurgence of Down Syndrome Research , LETICIA VELASQUEZ details encouraging research developments in this field. To read the details about this research for Dr. Lejeunes beloved ‘patients’ click on the article above. I’m sure Dr. Lejeune is looking on from heaven with great happiness – researchers are carrying on his work and what he worked for may someday be a reality.
Thankyou to Cathlete for alerting us to the wonderful article by Leticia Velasquez .
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