January 30, 2014
1 min read

BLOG: If you only had 17 years, how would you choose to live your life?

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Read more from John A. Hovanesian, MD, FACS.

A remarkable 17-year-old young man died in New England a few weeks ago. His name was Sam Berns, and he had a rare disorder called progeria, which results from an untreatable genetic mutation that causes aging of all the body’s cells. Sam was diagnosed shortly after birth with this affliction, which occurs in one in 8 million newborns. His parents, both physicians, formed a foundation to conduct research on the condition. Throughout his short life, they also wisely advised Sam to choose activities that would enrich his life most fully.

Sam Berns

And that he did. A scholar, tutor, musician and Eagle Scout, Sam Berns was an inspiration to others in his region of how to live life fully.

How many of us waste time pursuing false gods? How many hours do we squander on frivolous tasks? If we only had 17 years, would we spend them this way?

However sad it is to lose a young person with so much potential, Sam Berns lived very well. He showed us what’s important, and he internalized what most of us much older people never get — that our lives are short and we should enjoy them fully by forging deep relationships and loving others.

How particularly fortunate are we who have the ability and the license to help other people achieve good eyesight to live their own lives more richly.

When we’re all deciding whether to answer one more email or spend quality time with our loved ones, let’s all think about Sam Berns.