Robin Smith was not supposed to live past 12 years old.
But in 1953, the British man who has Down syndrome reached that milestone – and kept going strong.
The Daily Mail reports Smith, of Kettering, Northamptonshire, lived to age 78, making him the oldest person with Down syndrome in England. He died this fall on Sept. 27, two weeks before his 79th birthday.
His family and caretakers said Smith lived a life full of joy. He loved to dance and do yoga, and he was a big fan of Cliff Richard and Elvis Presley, according to the report.
“Robin was the legend of Northleigh. I was so happy to work with such a caring and special individual,” said Billy Fulcher, who works at Northleigh Residential Home where Smith lived.
“He had such a beautiful soul and he had a laugh I will never forget. He lit up a room with his twinkly eyes and cheeky smile and no one that met him could resist adoring him,” Fulcher said.
The facility plans to host a party in memory of Smith on his birthday, Oct. 9, according to the report.
When Smith was born in 1941, the life expectancy for people with Down syndrome was low. Today, thanks to modern medical advances and better treatment for people with the disorder, many are living into their 60s and 70s.
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Smith’s life and every human life, no matter how old or what their abilities, are valuable. However, the Daily Mail noted the discrimination that many people with Down syndrome have faced – and continue to face today.
According to the report:
When Mr Smith was a child, very little was known about Down’s Syndrome and wide-spread ignorance often resulted in children with the condition being abandoned or even killed.
… In the early 20th century, the eugenics movement began and campaigns to have people with Down’s Syndrome sterilized spread worldwide.
… After the horrors of World War II – which ended two years after Mr Smith was born in 1941 – the idea of ‘racial hygiene’ fell out of favour, although prominent figures continued to support the theories of eugenics, including campaigner Marie Stopes.
Marie Stopes founded an international abortion chain that continues that eugenic mission today by aborting unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities. Though many ignore it, the ugly discrimination of eugenics lives on with the abortion industry and the pro-abortion movement.
Unborn babies with Down syndrome frequently are targets of abortion. The abortion rate is approximately 67% for unborn babies with Down syndrome in the U.S. – though data is scarce and the number could be higher. In other countries, the problem is even worse. According to CBS News, nearly 100% of unborn babies who test positive for Down syndrome are aborted in Iceland. The rate in France was 77% in 2015 and 90% in the United Kingdom.
Pro-life and disability rights groups have been working in various ways to protect unborn babies and educate families about the value of children with Down syndrome.
Smith’s life is a testament to the fact that people with Down syndrome can live long, joyful lives, and they deserve to be protected and valued both before and after they are born.