Ashton Kutcher's Twin Was "Very Angry" He Talked About His Cerebral Palsy
But now, Michael Kutcher realizes that it changed his life for the better.
While Ashton Kutcher has been on TV and movie screens for years, you may not be aware that the actor has a twin brother. Ashton's twin, Michael Kutcher, is an advocate for those with cerebral palsy and for organ donation, after being diagnosed with CP and going through a heart transplant at a young age. But while Michael has now devoted himself to helping others with cerebral palsy, he was initially upset when his brother shared his diagnosis publicly.
In a new interview with Today Parents, Michael shared why he was "very angry" when Ashton first shared with the world that his twin has the condition, and why he grew to be so grateful that it happened.
Michael didn't want his diagnosis to define him.
The Today interview notes that it was about 17 years ago that Ashton shared that his brother had cerebral palsy in an interview. "I was very angry. Very angry. I remember speaking to him about it," Michael told Today. "I didn't want to be the face of CP. I never talked about it."
But, he realized that he had a big platform.
Michael was upset that Ashton shared his diagnosis at first, but he soon realized that it could be life-changing—for himself and others. Michael, who calls Ashton by his first name, Chris, explained, "Chris did me the biggest favor he's ever done because he allowed me to be myself."
Michael explained that a few months after Ashton made his diagnosis public, he was contacted by the mother of a five-year-old girl with severe cerebral palsy named Bella, who wanted to know if he would share his story at a gala. "I realized I needed to let go of the shame I felt and be a champion for people like Bella," Michael told Today. "I was finally ready to tell my story and I knew because of my twin, I'd have a big reach."
Michael then devoted his life to advocacy.
As explained on Michael's website, he works as an advocate and public speaker and has worked with The Cerebral Palsy Foundation and Donate Life. He's also worked at Transamerica Retirement Solutions in Denver, Colorado, where he lives with his wife and children. Currently, he's working as an advisor for Joshin, an app that helps people find caretakers for loved ones with disabilities.
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He's navigated a lot of health issues since he was born.
When Michael was born, it was a surprise to his parents, who thought they were just having one baby. Michael's website tells the story of how Ashton was born at 11 pounds, but Michael weighed less than five pounds and was struggling to breathe. Before starting kindergarten he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, "a group of disorders that affect movement and muscle tone or posture … caused by damage that occurs to the immature brain as it develops, most often before birth," according to Mayo Clinic.
Then, when Michael was 13, he was given just weeks to live due to a heart condition called cardiomyopathy that caused his heart to grow to four times the usual size. Fortunately, a successful heart transplant saved him.
In a 2019 interview with Us Weekly, Michael said that, at the time, Ashton said he wished he could give his own heart. "It's just…I can't find the words," he said. "It's a connection that you can't explain. In all seriousness, we're just very connected…It's an honor or deep appreciation and a deep love for someone who would sacrifice that for you."
Ashton has always supported Michael, but Michael had to set some boundaries.
In the Today interview, Michael explained that when they were kids, his twin always had his back. He shared a situation where kids teased him and called him the R-word. "My brother picked a fight with them," Michael said. "He stood up for me. He wanted them to treat me with respect. And that meant a lot." He also said that if Ashton was invited to a sleepover and Michael wasn't, then Ashton wouldn't go.
But, Michael did make sure that Ashton didn't live his whole life pitying him. "I said, 'Every time you look at me, every time you feel sorry for me, in a way, you make me less. You make me less,'" Michael told Us Weekly. "I am who I am, right? I was put in these situations. Who I am is for a reason. I strongly feel that a major part of that reason is to be an advocate and be outspoken and use the platform that I am to advocate for disability, to advocate for organ donation, and I feel I've found my purpose in that."