SELTERS, Germany—Mathilde Hartl, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, was presented the Order of Merit on February 22, 2013, by the Prime Minister of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer. The Order of Merit is the highest tribute the Federal Republic of Germany awards to individuals for services to the nation.
Ms. Hartl, who lives in Bavaria, was honored for the long-term personal care she has provided for her disabled son Martin, now 26 years old. As a child, he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. As a result, Ms. Hartl gets up throughout the night to attend to his needs, which includes regularly monitoring his breathing and clearing his airway of bronchial secretions to avoid infection or pneumonia. Her other son, Max, also had DMD along with a mental disability. Ms. Hartl lovingly cared for both Martin and Max for many years. Sadly, Max died in 2008, at 19 years of age.
Asked where she gets the strength to provide such comprehensive care, Ms. Hartl answered: “From my religious beliefs. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I highly respect life. As long as I can, I want to contribute to my son’s joy in life despite his disability.”
Prime Minister Seehofer praised Ms. Hartl and her fellow honorees when he stated: “Every single one of you has made the world a little bit better.”
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