Have you ever heard the quote, “You don’t know a good thing until it’s gone”? This quote has been running through my head for the past couple of days because of an incident occurring right now with a 23-year-old on the autism spectrum named Paul Corby who is being denied a heart transplant—due, in part, to his disability. As I was reading this story I started to reflect on my life in many ways. The biggest reason was because Paul and I are only a year a part in age and have a similar diagnosis of PDD-NOS. It made me think to myself, “Could this situation happen to me?”
As much as I spread the word of community, situations like these make me understand that you should live everyday with purpose. We should be counting our blessings and appreciating what we have because an unfortunate thing I’ve learned about life is that it’s sometimes extremely unfair. No matter if it’s disability-related or not, this is why our lives should be focused on pursuing happiness and going after our goals and dreams every single day.
At the same time, situations like Paul’s make me understand that we must fight for our community members, whether we’ve ever met them or not. We must count our blessings and then also count the ways we can possibly make a difference in others’ lives. Whether it’s through advocacy, awareness, or just being there for those individuals, this is an ability that every person on earth has. It’s the ability to be there for one another.
If we do hope to pursue this, though, we must encourage people to live by Temple Grandin’s words: “Different but not less.” In Paul’s situation, we must make people understand that being disabled doesn’t make you any less of an individual in this world. Of course, any type of transplant operation does come with a great deal of complications. According to published accounts, however, the explanation for why he was denied—with autism in the reasoning—makes us all feel like we are less, and is plain wrong.
Paul’s mother has created a petition on change.org to help persuade treatment facility to reconsider the decision. As I was just telling my friend today, no matter the disability we should always let our abilities shine through. If we do this, we give ourselves the chance to live our lives in the best ways possible. We will never regret doing this.