Monday, December 1, 2014

An Open Letter to St. Jude's Research Hospital *Updated*

Dear St. Jude's Hospital:

You do truly amazing and great work researching and treating serious childhood diseases; that research and those treatments are expensive. And with so many people's minds turning towards children or childhood memories this time of year, this is surely a major fundraising period for you.

I do, however, strongly object to your current television ad. It begins with celebrities saying "He doesn't want a new toy this Christmas", then "She doesn't want fancy clothes" as some of your young patients are pictured. It then goes on to say "They aren't as lucky as your children." They aren't as lucky as my child? Those children are suffering from terrible, life-threatening diseases, but they are alive. My child never drew a breath, was never photographed, not even in a sonogram. My child never knew that he or she was loved. My child had no chance at life. Knowing this, which child is more lucky, the one struggling to survive, supported by family and surrounded by caring medical personnel, or the child who was never born? According to the American Pregnancy Association, between 10 and 25 percent of clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. Are those children luckier than those you treat? Are their parents luckier than those of your patients?

I know that you need to catch people's attention, especially this time of year when everyone is so busy. And I have little doubt that it can be difficult to get people to donate, when they have presents and travel and all the other holiday fixings to pay for. Tugging on people's heartstrings must be effective, since you wouldn't do it otherwise. You must be caring, compassionate people to do the work that you do; when planning your ads, please have some compassion for all of the people out there, like me, who are grieving for children who were not as lucky as those in your care.


(A copy of this letter was mailed to St. Jude's on Monday. Though I don't expect a response, I will let you know if I receive one.)