Amrita Hospital, Kochi hosted Amrithanganam: Embracing Uniqueness—an interactive event dedicated to 50 children with Down Syndrome and their families. The gathering addressed the unique challenges they face, as well as the immense talents with which they are born.
“They have personalities that are very distinct,” said Dr Krishnakumar R, Amrita’s Head of Paediatric Cardiology. “They are very affectionate. They have a great love for music. They have a natural sense of rhythm. They get along very well with other people.”
Amrita partnered with Hearts of Joy International to share new and effective efforts for holistic care. Participants in the day’s events included experts in Genetics, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Paediatric Surgery, Developmental Paediatrics, General Paediatrics, and Neonatology.
“One of the main objectives of this programme is to highlight the importance of early intervention therapy and speech therapy for babies who are affected by Down Syndrome,” said Dr Sheela Nampoothiri, Head of Amrita’s Dept of Genetics and Professor, Dept of Paediatrics.
Both patients and parents shared inspiring stories about their lives to express their first-hand experiences. A personal touch to the event included dance performances. Many of the children who attended are students at our Amrita Institute for Differently Abled.
“They have this unique ability to see hearts in a way that we can’t. And that is something very beautiful—they’re here for a purpose, even if that’s to teach us something that we wouldn’t have been able to learn otherwise,” said Ms Lauren Costabile, Founder of Hearts of Joy International.
We call them as Down Syndrome. No! They are not down. They are up people.Dr C Jayakumar, Head of Paedatrics, Amrita Hospital, Kochi
The discussions addressed counselling across the care continuum, from pre-conception to adulthood, and shared how early intervention from the medical care system is crucial. Another critical factor is the transfer of care as individuals with Down Syndrome reach an advanced age. As well, societal integration was explored in-depth, covering aspects such as marriage, independence, employability, and support systems.
“We call them as Down Syndrome. No! They are not down. They are up people. So they have aspirations, emotions, and they want special care,” said Dr C Jayakumar, Amrita’s Head of Paediatrics.
“We are conducting this meeting for the sake of these children who need improvement in all aspects of life. Maybe neurological. Maybe cardiac. Maybe emotional. Maybe social.”
Doctors and other caregivers emphasised the importance of collaborative efforts from families, healthcare workers, authorities, and volunteer organisations to break down the barriers children with Down Syndrome face. This requires a multi-disciplinary and holistic medical approach, alongside improving community awareness and connecting families with governmental support.
Among other distinguished guests were Dr Surekha Ramachandran, Chairperson and Founder, Down’s Syndrome Foundation of India; Dr MKC Nair, Former Vice Chancellor of Kerala University of Health; Dr Shaji Thomas John, Consultant Pediatrician, Baby Memorial Hospital Kozhikode; Dr Remesh Kumar, National Indian Academy Paedatrics (IAP), Immediate Past President; and Dr MS Noushad, Govt Hospital Ernakulam. With Amrita Hospital, Dr KP Vinayan, Dr PK Brijesh, Dr Nisha Bhavani, and Dr Madhumita also spoke.