I never had the privilege to meet Donnie Daoust. During his short 17 years of life with cerebral palsy, though, I’m told he was a constant fountain of joy and laughter for his family and all those who encountered him. Here’s a short video illustrating his laugh filmed by his family outside Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland in March 2010.
Soon after, Donnie’s constant laugh turned into a constant cough and struggle to breathe. He died of respiratory failure two weeks after his 17th birthday in May 2012. His mother, Vivian Daoust of Tracy, has filed a lawsuit against the company responsible for providing his customized wheelchair, saying its lack of proper fittings contributed to his early death. Here’s a short video of Donnie struggling to breathe. Warning: This video can be difficult to watch.