Monday, March 9, 2009

How Can You Say Scientific and Medical Progress Is a Distraction?

Parkinson's Disease. Diabetes. Cancer. Spinal Cord Injuries and Paralysis. These are some of the most debilitating and prevalent diseases of our time.  They are also some of the disease or injuries that could possibly be reversed or even wiped out if stem cell research progresses as we hope.  Now there are no promises, but without trial there can be no success.  Some of the greatest medical discoveries ever, such as penicillin, were discovered by accident or by tinkering towards another goal. 

What am I babbling about? Today President Obama overturned President Bush's law that limited stem cell research to only the 60 embryonic stem cell lines that were currently available. This was never enough.......not nearly enough.  Now I know the theological and ideological argument about using and creating embryonic stem cells for research. I can appreciate the argument against it, the same way I can appreciate someone's pro-life arguments. For me though, it's all about the science.  

My grandfather Morton was one of the biggest influences in my life. I look like him, I got my humor from him, and to this day he still inspires me.  Unfortunately, Morton was taken from us WAY too early by complications from Hepatitis C. What he really needed to keep him around was a new liver. With a SEVERE shortage of livers to be transplanted, lets just say a 70+ year old male was not high on the national list. What if we could just have grown him one?  And that's just one example of my own personal family experiences with such diseases.  With almost 24 million Americans with diabetes, 1.5 million Americans with Parkinson's Disease, and almost a half of million US deaths from Cancer alone just last year, we NEED this! And this is just the US!

Is stem cell research the answer?? I don't know that yet.  I do know that some amazing things have already been done with stem cells that nobody thought was possible.......see my previous post. If you could keep a loved one healthy, if you could keep Alzheimer's from degrading someone's mind to the point of being unable to recognize their own child or spouse, if you could give back the power to walk to someone who feels trapped by a wheelchair..........wouldn't you?

I know the issue is about it being embryonic stem cells and not just stem cells in general, but for now this is our best chance for such advances. So if you are just totally against this, then there is nothing I can do and I hope for everyone's sake that you never find yourself in one of those horrific positions that might change your mind.  However, to Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia who said, "Why are we going and distracting ourselves from the economy? Let's focus on what needs to be done"................I say we are trying, stop trying to get in the way.  You know what's distracting...... death and disease and losing the ones we love. Look around man, nobody is saying the economy is stable or secure and that it should be ignored. In fact, it's safe to say IT IS our national #1 priority.  But since the economy and money seems to be the only thing on your mind Mr. Cantor......this act will even bring new jobs as well. 

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