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Heroes You Should Know: Jerome Lejeune

Jerome Lejeune was a French pediatrician and geneticist, renowned in the field of medicine for discovering, through his study of Down syndrome, a link between intellectual disabilities and chromosomal irregularities. His discovery revolutionized the field of genetics.  Lejeune went on to identify several other syndromes related to chromosomal abnormalities as well.  For his trailblazing work, he was celebrated internationally, and in 1964 Dr. Lejeune was named the first chair of human genetics at the Paris School of Medicine. He always saw research and treatment as inseparable, and his ultimate goal was to alleviate suffering while celebrating the dignity of life.  Thus, Lejeune was mortified to see that over time his genetic discoveries had begun leading to the termination of pregnancies involving special needs children.   As he said, “A society that kills its children has lost its soul and its hope.” Dr. Lejeune’s answer to what he considered the grave misuse of his findings was to dedicate the rest of his life, and his immense genius, to speaking, writing, and organizing in support of a culture of life. Lejeune died on Easter Sunday, 1994.  The Catholic Church has opened his cause for canonization as a saint. Dr. Jerome Lejeune was a groundbreaking doctor and scientist who was profoundly committed to supporting human life in all its complexity. He is a hero you should know. And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.

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