Those who contributed to this program are remembered in so many touching ways. I would like tell you about Joel, who died on October 8th, 2000, at the age of 26. His mother, Debra, sent us these photos of Joel when he was a baby and at twenty-three. We don’t often get photos of donors when they are older—for many, smiling for the camera does not come easily.
The bright promise of this adorable little boy was darkened with the early diagnosis of septo-optic dysplasia that caused blindness and pituitary deficiency. By 12 months of age, it was clear that language and motor milestones were not to be reached. Joel received educational services for the visually handicapped with special attention to language and behavior at his elementary school and later he attended the Perkins School for the Blind, living in a residence there with frequent visits home.
Debra told me when we first talked after he died, that she wanted Joel’s donation to make a difference. We are dedicated to doing exactly that through research and our promise to remember this young man, and his family, and the challenges they all faced.
—Jane Pickett, Ph.D., Director
Autism Tissue Program