The Jerome Lejeune Foundation, a prominent advocacy and research group for people with Down syndrome based in France, announced at the Heritage Foundation Monday that they will be opening a special hospital in the United States for adults and children with Down syndrome within a three-year period.
The Lejeune Foundation carries on the work of French geneticist Jerome Lejeune, who discovered the cause of Down Syndrome in 1958. The Foundation focuses on research, advocacy, and care to improve the quality of life for those with the condition, search for a cure, and fight abortion practices that target unborn children with Down syndrome.
Lejeune discovered that children with Down Syndrome or Trisomy 21 have a third copy of chromosome 21. He was named the first professor of fundamental genetics at the Faculty of Medicine of Paris in 1964 in recognition of his contributions to genetics. Lejeune was a devout Catholic and his canonization is being considered by the Vatican.
David Lejeune, President of the Board of Directors for the Jerome Lejeune Foundation USA, made the announcement saying that thus far in the U.S. the organization has just been focused on scientific research.
“We are looking forward to accepting the challenge,” he said, “which will be if God wants and with your help to launch within a three-year period the first hospital for children and adults with Downs in the United States of America.”
“We have over fifteen years of experience doing that in Paris where the foundation this year I think has reached a record of working with over 7,000 patients with Down syndrome providing holistic care, not just medical care, holistic care,” he added.
“The reality of it is that by caring for the weak, by caring for the most vulnerable we are made strong,” Lejeune said, “so if we can launch this project caring for the weakest we are made stronger if we are made stronger we can advocate better.”
The event also featured nine-year-old Alexander who read a letter he had written to Lejeune’s widow, Madame Jerome Lejeune, thanking the foundation for the work they did for children like him with the condition.
Alexander said for a class project on heroes “of course I picked Dr. Lejeune as my hero and I’m so excited to introduce Dr. Lejeune to everyone and teach everyone about all of the wonderful things Dr. Lejeune has done for me and everyone else that has Down syndrome.”
Madame Lejeune spoke fondly, in English and French, of her late husband and the excitement of bringing their work to the United States.
“When he discovered this extra little chromosome 21 we were so happy because he was thinking that when you know the cause of the disease all the scientists want to try to find a remedy,” she said.
But Lejeune’s widow shared the horror that her husband felt instead when, “all not only in France said it’s a wonderful discovery now instead of giving money to try to care them we can give money so we can perfect the technique so we can give abortions so they don’t get born.”
“For Jerome it was horrible,” she said, “he said I cannot, I love my patients and when I see them I cannot kill them when they are not yet born so he went against the abortion.”
“It’s terrible for somebody to make a discovery to see that it is being used to the contrary of what he desired and in France now 96 percent of children [with the condition are] aborted before they are born,” she lamented.
On a more cheerful note, Lejeune said she hoped “that with you we can do something in America, in the USA because that’s a question all over in the world and in France we have a very big foundation now many, many people who help us but we need to start here in [the] United States.”
She told Townhall that she felt somewhat positive about the political situation in the United States when it comes to abortion.
“For the first time in 20 years there is something happened that the President don’t want to give money to the people who do abortion,” she said. “I don’t know if he will be able to do it but it’s the first time I’ve heard that, in France it’s the contrary they want to give much more for that.”