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When My Son Was Called 'Incompatible With Life'

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Have you felt it? That overwhelming sensation that sometimes occurs when you think about your diagnosis or the diagnosis of your loved one? At times, the pressure can be almost tangible.

Society often uses a diagnosis to define and determine what a person is capable or not capable of doing. It becomes a way to assess what a person is compatible or incompatible with. It outlines how a person will or will not be able to respond to a given situation. Although a diagnosis is not necessarily a bad thing, and it can be a useful tool, sadly, all too often society turns it into a list of limitations. Sometimes the diagnosis even overrides who the person actually is and it becomes their new identity in the eyes of others.

Even before my son was born, he received a diagnosis  one that deemed him “incompatible with life.” In the eyes of the medical world, this was our baby’s new identity: “incompatible with life.” It didn’t matter that I could hear my son’s heart beating, that I could see him moving on the ultrasound, and that I could feel him kicking. Despite what we were told, the definitions we were given, and even the reality of what would eventually happen, we did not allow his diagnosis to define him. We embraced the fact that he was alive inside me, and we chose to make the most of my pregnancy. We did not know what would happen after he was born, but we knew he was more than the diagnosis we received.

We were blessed that our son was born alive. He opened his eyes, his heart continued to beat, and he breathed the same air I was breathing. His stay was short, but it was sweet. Our little guy was compatible — he proved that by being alive inside of me, and he continued to prove that during his time in our arms. He was so much more than a diagnosis.

Over and over again, individuals who have received a diagnosis (any diagnosis) have proven they are more than that diagnosis. They have proven their diagnosis is not their identity. They have proven they are compatible — compatible with learning, growing and developing. Compatible with sports, hobbies, education and careers. Compatible with peers, family, friends, employers and significant others. They are compatible. Even when their diagnosis predicts that they will be incompatible, they have proven the definitions wrong.

It’s true that sometimes a condition is limiting, and an individual’s life may not be the same as someone else’s life, but it doesn’t mean they are incompatible. They may do things differently, participate in an alternate capacity or need something adapted so they can be successful. Accommodations might be needed, but that unique person is not incompatible.

Regardless of a person’s diagnosis or their condition, regardless of what they can or cannot do, regardless of how long they live or what they accomplish  they are compatible — compatible with love! Love extends boundaries and limitations. Love is not restricted by a diagnosis, a condition or a disability. What love looks like and how it is expressed cannot be defined by the medical professionals. Love makes each of us compatible.

I am so thankful that my son taught me how to look beyond a diagnosis. He taught me how I could love regardless of the limitations that might occur. My son proved to me, “Diagnosis does not determine compatibility with love.”

diagnosis does not determine compatibility with love

Have you proven you are more than your diagnosis? What are you compatible with? What has your loved one done to defy the odds? How have you or your loved one exemplified that diagnosis does not determine compatibility with love? Please share — let’s celebrate our compatibility!

To learn how we celebrate our son’s life and how he defied the odds by becoming an organ donor please visit

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: June 23, 2015
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