A Palm Beach jury just awarded a couple, Rudolpho Santana and Ana Mejia, $4.5 million in damages in a wrongful birth suit.
Their son, Bryan, was born in October 2008 without arms and with only one leg.
Their suit was against the mothers obstetrician and sonographer, saying if they had done their jobs, detecting the anomaly before birth, the couple would have had time to abort him.
Mejia and Santana claimed they would have never have brought Bryan into the world had they known about his horrific disabilities. Had technicians at OB/GYN Specialists of the Palm Beaches and Perinatal Specialists of the Palm Beaches properly administered two ultrasounds and seen he was missing three limbs, the West Palm Beach couple said they would have terminated the pregnancy.
According to the outcome of this trial, its the duty of the obstetrician to detect any abnormality in time for the mother to abort him. Admittedly it does seem a gross oversight to miss such an obvious abnormality, but I am glad the doctor did miss it, for now little Bryan, who never chose his disability, will have a chance to sing his song in the world. I am sure Bryan would rather be alive as he approaches his third birthday. He doesn’t need $4.5 million, just parents who have the attitude that life is what you make of it with what you have, not parents who bemoan what they don’t have and seek someone on whom to lay the blame. We have become an entitlement society, where if my life isn’t all I wanted it to be, someone other than me is at fault. Then I sue them and live off the damages. No wonder no one wants to be an obstetrician anymore, the malpractice insurance is astronomical, and those who remain in the field often pressure women into prenatal testing and abortion in case they regret their decision to give life to their child and turn on their doctors.
That attitude won’t make Bryan succeed. He needs parents who accept him for who he is, not what he isn’t, and who challenge him to achieve what he can despite his disabilities. Like Tony Melendez.
‘Tony Melendez was born in Nicaragua in the days when Thalidomide was no longer given to American and European mothers, but was still prescribed to Latin American mothers to curb morning sickness. He was born without arms. Rather than complain about the unfairness of his condition, which was preventable, his father sought to help his son. Tony’s father brought the family to California to fit him with artificial arms, which he later discarded because he was so much better at using his feet. In high school, Tony learned how to use those feet to play guitar. Soon, he returned to the Church of his childhood, and began to play at as many as five Sunday Masses. He was selected to play the guitar for the visit of Pope John Paul II to LA on September 15, 1987, the Feast of the Sorrowful Mother.
Tony was nervous when he performed his song “Never Be the Same” about his reversion to Catholicism, but no one was prepared for the Holy Father’s reaction. He rose, jumped off the platform where he was sitting, walked over to the platform where Tony was, and reached up to embrace him. The audience roared its approval. Since then Tony has crossed the world with his singing apostolate, married and adopted several children. It was my honor to meet and embrace him twice, his joy is contagious, he made me feel like his sister. I just emailed him with a link to this story to ask him to contact Ana Mejia and Rudolfo Santana to give them hope that little Bryan can have a happy, fulfilling life. Tony radiates the peace of Christ, and if anyone can illustrate how to turn one’s life around from self-pity and blame to self-help and service, he can.
From my experience raising my nine-year-old Christina, a child with serious cognitive delays and physical disability, yet who greets every day with a smile, I can confirm hat $4.5 million dollars can buy many things to make life with a handicap easier, but a hopeful attitude can’t be bought; it must be caught. Caught from a living example of a deep personal relationship with Jesus and mentors who don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.I hope Tony Melendez contacts Bryan’s family and becomes that mentor.
I hope that this couple makes a commitment to each other in Holy Matrimony, returns to the Church and brings their son in to be baptized. With the grace of the sacraments, they can find the peace they were seeking with the lawsuit and give their son the hope he will need to sing his own song of praise for Our Lord in his daily life.