It's not often said that someone who dies at 34 years of age has led a long life. But then it's not often that someone lives a full 34 years when his parents are told by doctors at his birth that he has less than one year to live.
This is the story of Chad James Ellison of Orleans Township, Michigan, who went to his reward on December 23, 2007. Chad was born on December 20, 1973, with trisomy 13 and 18, a rare combination of chromosomal defects. Trisomy 13 is also called Patau syndrome; trisomy 18 is also called Edward's syndrome. Neither syndrome has a cure. Twenty to thirty percent of babies born with trisomy 13 or 18 die in the first month of life; 90 percent die by age one. To top it off, Chad was born with a hole in his heart. But he beat the considerable odds.
At the end of his life, Chad measured 30 inches tall and weighed 32 pounds, according to a story in The Daily News (Jan. 11) of Greenville, Mich. His condition prevented him from ever learning to walk, and he had to be carried everywhere. But, said his mother, Linda Lumbert, 59, "He loved to be picked up. He loved the attention." Throughout his 34 years, Chad's maturity level remained that of a six-month-old child, and he never learned to talk. But that didn't matter, said his mother, "He communicated with his eyes and smile."
Chad also enjoyed music, camping, fishing, swimming, and "flirting with girls." He served as the ring bearer in his sister's wedding. He led a full life. "He was just our happy little guy," said his mother. "I said from the start he would die next to my heart at home. I loved him and I was going to care for him."
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