The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Monday, September 08, 2008

Free healthcare for all: a basic human right.

I believe that free healthcare for all, should be a basic human right. It isn't. In many countries of the world, only those who can pay for healthcare, have access to it - and that just isn't right. Healthcare should be free for all who need it, the actual cost of supporting it distributed amongst all members of society, who are working, through taxation. This is the only way to prevent injustices such as the one I am about to address.

Kiron: does that name seem familiar? For some it will be a brand of lens, but for others it will mean something else entirely - it will mean a tragedy.

Let me explain. Kiron is the name of a very special child born recently in Bangladesh. This child was a hearty 5.5 kg at birth. Part of that seemingly healthy weight came in an unusual form: an extra head. Yes, that is right, Kiron was born with two fully normal heads on one otherwise normal body.

Now, even in the most developed society, a baby like Kiron - a baby whose body seems to be from an ancient legend, another time of mythic beings - would attract great attention. So it was in Bangladesh. A crowd of 150,000 people gathered around the clinic that had tended to Kiron. Though just newly born, Kiron was an instant celebrity in his native country.

Yet, that celebrity was not of much use to him. Though 150,000 people had gathered, in a kind of pilgrimage, to his clinic, not one of them reached out to help Kiron. You see, Kiron's parents were very poor. Their doctor advised that Kiron be sent for care to a hospital in Dhaka, but his parents could not afford a hospital bill. So, this marvellous child, with two functional heads, was taken home. There, he caught a fever - and this is the part that stings - DIED. Not one of those 150,000 worshippers had actually translated their worship into active assistance for the family. This most unusual of all children was allowed to die for want of the money for a hospital bill. Surely, a crowd of so many people, in a nation captivated by this child, could have helped the family at this time? Had they each donated 10 cents that would have been 15,000 dollars worth of hospital bill - surely enough in such a poor country. Yet, their interest did not extend past morbid curiosity, it seems. The child was allowed to die for no other reason than the parents couldn't afford the medical care to keep him alive.

Now, I object strongly to this scenario. Kiron should not have been allowed to die, for want of money. Kiron's nation should have provided healthcare, not only in this special case of this special child - but in all cases of all children and, indeed, adults, in need of medical care. Healthcare should be a right as ubiquitous as the air we breathe. No-one should lack it for want of money - for money shouldn't even be part of the equation - it just isn't right that it should be so.

No doubt many thousands of children - probably millions - die each year because of their parents' poverty. Not one of them should. Fewer of them would if every society made the effort to make healthcare free for all - or, at the very least, free for the most vulnerable ones of all: newborn children who have yet to mount an effective immune defense of their own, against the world.

Should there ever be another child like Kiron, I hope that the astounding birth leads to a more effective reaction than 150,000 gawpers who did nothing to save him. They should be ashamed, really.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:27 PM 


Blogger Shannon said...

It is a violation of human rights to withhold medication or hospital care to an individual for failure to pay. Kiron's story is truly tragic, not only for Bangladesh, but for the world that will never get to know or understand such a unique child.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Is that an official legal opinion on the situation Shannon (I note you speak as if you have a legal background sometimes)?

If it is a human right to have medical care, I note that a lot of countries don't seem to know this. America seems to be included in that. I once was in a hospital in the USA and their first concern was not what ailed me (which needed to be seen to) but whether and how I could pay. Disgusting. (I was fully insured...but that is beside the point: their attitude was wrong.)

10:35 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

To deny an individual health care, in many instances, is to deny him or her life. No person should be deprived of life for failure to pay a medical bill (under any governing body of law.)

Furthermore, to a certain degree, the US does recognize the human right to medical care. The EMTALA requires hospitals to provide emergency care to anyone regardless of citizenship, legal status, or ability to pay. Hospitals have an affirmative to duty to treat patients with emergency medical conditions.

Patients in need of non-emergency treatment have options that include government-run hospitals, medical clinics, non-profit organizations, charities, and fundraisers. The US health care system is by no means perfect, but I value the quality and skill of the doctors here. America is certainly not the worst place to be sick.

BTW: It's interesting that you noted my legal background. I guess that makes me transparent (not a good quality for an attorney.)

2:55 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Shannon,

It is good to hear that there are some options in the US for those wihout funds, but are in need of medical care. I didn't know that.

I think the European system is more humane, though, in general - for European countries generally offer free healthcare to all (even foreigners on their soil). So, people have a chance of life, even if they have no money at all.

Asia, sadly, is basically money driven. Most of it seems to operate on the ability to pay - in all things, incidentally.

3:57 PM  

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