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Jawanda Mast helps her daughter Rachel, 14, write thank you notes at their home in Olathe, Kansas. Rachel has Down syndrome.
In the 14 years since her daughter, Rachel, was born with Down syndrome, Jawanda Mast has always been clear that she’d change the condition if she could.

“I couldn’t love her more, but I would give almost anything to take away that extra chromosome,” the Olathe, Kansas, mom wrote on her blog. “While I may know she’s perfect, the world doesn’t.”

But when Massachusetts scientists announced recently that they’ve found a way to silence the chromosome that causes trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome, it rocked Mast – and the rest of the disability community.

“It’s so hard to imagine you could actually do that,” Mast told NBC News. “Yes, I would take away the challenges, I would take away the health risks. But now I also stop and say, ‘Oh my goodness, how would that impact the rest of her?’”

Hailed as a “cure in a Petri dish,” the research by scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School is the first to find that it may be possible to switch off the genetic material responsible for...