"DEAR DOCTOR" film sparks a movement in the Down syndrome community

Three years ago, Julie Willson and Shannon Daughtry co-founded the nonprofit, Nothing Down, to show the world the beauty and potential of individuals with Down syndrome.  Their goal was to provide hope and resources to new and expectant parents receiving their child’s Down syndrome diagnosis. But little did they know, their organization would take on a life of its own, branching off into several programs and gathering followers across  the country and beyond. Nothing Down gained a huge international following by producing 14 viral projects, impacting families all over the globe. Their most recent short film was released earlier this week and has sparked a viral movement in the Down syndrome community, provoking families to rally for change from medical professionals.  The film, “Dear Doctor” is raw, it’s emotional, and it has motivated an entire community to demand change.

Co-founder, Shannon Daughtry, explains “We often hear of the heartbreaking ways in which many families receive their child's Down syndrome diagnosis. It is our goal to change the narrative and to work with the medical community to ensure that EVERY parent is delivered their child's Down syndrome diagnosis with compassion, up-to-date education, proper resources, and hope. We believe that this film has the strong potential to ignite a much needed change for future parents.”

Julie Willson agrees, adding “The response that we have received so far has been overwhelming.  We’re being contacted by individuals, organizations and even medical groups, across the United States and in the UK, all requesting to use our film to train medical students and currently practicing doctors.  We are very lucky to have our friend, Sandra McElwee, from the A&E show, “Born This Way”, on our side. She was featured in “Dear Doctor” and has been busy contacting some of the decision-makers in the medical community, hoping to get this film in the rotation of the annual conference of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Meanwhile, our team is working hard to collect contact information for obstetricians, maternal fetal medicine, genetic counselors, and pediatricians across the country.  We want to get this film in the hands of each and every one of them. We need to do what we can to enlighten them on what parents actually need when learning of an unexpected diagnosis.”

In the few days since the release, the 8 minute film has been viewed well over 200,000 times, and created a #DearDoctor movement.  Thousands of parents are sharing the film, while calling out their own medical professional by telling their personal “Dear Doctor” encounters.  While the majority are negative, some have shared their positive stories, giving thanks to their medical team. Kelly Foote shared her encouraging experience, referencing the medical professional that got it right.

“To Chris Duhon Simon- You were that positive medical lifeline that gave us the truth about a beautiful, normal life with our little Konnor.  The medical field need tons more just like you!”

The positive stories echo the message of Dear Doctor. Every parent deserves a medical professional who reacts with compassion and delivers an unexpected diagnosis in a neutral and unbiased manner.  Thank you to all of the ones that get it right!

Nothing Down