Interview with Fareed Ben-Youssef

The circumstance of my birth is the stuff of movies.  Just a day after my mother had a routine ultrasound confirming that the new baby was going to be a girl, she went into labor.  Amid pus and blood, I was born on March 6, 1987—a boy, it turned out, and three and a half months premature.  I weighed a deathly two pounds, and my prognosis was not good.  In between moments where my heart stopped, the doctors informed my parents to prepare for the worst.  There was no way, they thought, that under such conditions, a child could live.  Well, my body had other ideas, and I pushed through.  The celebration of survival was quickly tainted, however, by the harsh reality of my mental disability.  I had cerebral palsy and over 40 percent of my brain was not just underdeveloped, but absent entirely.

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