Sunday, 09 May 2010 18:30

Sam on Dutch TV

Sam Galesloot

On April 26, 2010, a documentary was shown on Dutch national television about Sam, a 25-year-old young man who is deafblind, and severely physically impaired because of a progressive muscular disease.  Sam acquired his sensory losses after he had learned to speak and to read. I know Sam rather well. He was a student in the Deafblind Department of Viataal (Sint-Michielsgestel, Netherlands), when I worked there as head of the Diagnostic Center.

This documentary attracted over 1,000,000 viewers. Sam later appeared on a popular talk show, which launched a campaign to raise money for a publication about the communication system he uses, an adapted deafblind manual alphabet, which he receives on his cheek instead of on his hand.

One video clip in the documentary caused nationwide discussion. It was taken from an earlier film, made by the same journalist, about Sam’s life when he was a young boy. In the clip, a doctor asked Sam’s parents whether a machine should be installed to provide Sam with oxygen if he became too weak to breath. The doctor argued that combined hearing and visual impairments, plus severe breathing problems, reduced Sam’s Quality of Life to virtually zero. The doctor suggested that Sam’s parents give permission to refrain from providing oxygen, so Sam could die. The parents never gave this permission. They did everything in their power to educate their son, and to teach him the real values of life. They saw Sam develop into a mature, very knowledgeable young man, whose life is a pleasure to himself and those around him.
Published in Jan's blog