Skip to comments.Stem Cell Research: Interview with Joni Eareckson Tada (quadriplegic disagreed with Chris Reeve)
Posted on 10/11/2004 6:05:53 PM PDT by mountaineer
Q: How did you get involved in the debate on stem cell research?
A: Hardly a week goes by that people don't ask me, "Have you ever talked with Christopher Reeve? I saw him the other day on television and ..." People are curious about where I stand regarding the paralyzed actor's hope for a cure through what he calls therapeutic cloning. After all, I'm disabled. Don't I want a cure? I would love to walk. But 35 years of quadriplegia since a diving accident in 1967 has honed my perspective. I look at the broader implications of medical research as a double-edged sword.
Q: Why is the debate on stem cell research so important to you?
A: Some today are aggressively promoting research using stem cells derived from human embryos that are clones or frozen discards from fertility clinics. But I want people to know that not all Americans with disabilities believe in using human embryos. ...
(Excerpt) Read more at joniandfriends.org ...
A: Most Americans, out of a mixed sense of sympathy and awe, look at people in wheelchairs and think: Who would want to deny them a cure? No one better understands the desire for a cure than I do, as a quadriplegic who has lived in a wheelchair for decades. But even Christopher Reeve's chances for a cure are more realistic using adult stem-cell therapies. For every study he may cite, I can point to scores of success stories using adult stem-cell therapies: At the Washington Medical Center in Seattle, physicians successfully treated 26 rapidly deteriorating multiple sclerosis patients with each patient's own bone marrow stem cells. Of the 26, six improved and 20 stabilized. Here's another example. A Los Angeles neurosurgeon harvested stem cells from the brain of a Parkinson's patient. The doctor cultured the cells and a small percentage of those cells matured into dopamine-secreting neurons. He injected six million cultured cells back into his patient's brain. One year later, the patient's symptoms were down by 83 percent. It's a phenomenal success story, but few in the news media picked up on this breakthrough.
Q: But in the long run, isn't embryonic stem-cell research more promising?
A: The question should not be which is more promising. Instead, what is right and good for our future? Researchers still make conflicting discoveries. Stanford University Medical Center said that stem cells taken from adult bone marrow do not have the ability to evolve as to those from human embryos. But the Stem Cell Institute at the University of Minnesota found another variety of bone marrow stem-cells that may develop into almost any type of cellular tissue in the body. This finding means a physician could use a patient's own cells in therapy, to lower the dangers of immune rejections or tumors. This practice promises to be more cost-effective, safer and more ethical. ...
[end of excerpt]
My comments: I thought the death of Christopher Reeve, John Kerry's efforts to exploit the conditions of Reeve and Michael J. Fox by misstating the facts about stem cell research and the current level of confusion over the issue made posting this interview timely and potentially helpful.
For those unfamiliar with Joni, her website introduces her as follows:
A diving injury in 1967 left Joni (pronounced Johnny) Eareckson Tada paralyzed from the neck down. After spending an extended time rehabilitating and questioning the meaning of life, she found immense hope and peace in God through Jesus Christ. As Joni explored the promises of God she discovered that suffering has profound meaning in our lives and that pain, as difficult as it may be, has a purpose. Since that time her life has become a living example that God is sovereign, faithful, and good.
Joni has written several award winning books, created many beautiful paintings with a mouth brush, and is featured on a daily radio broadcast heard around the world. A film of her autobiography was produced in 1979 and has been translated into several languages....
Joni and her husband Ken married in 1982 and make their home in southern California. Ken retired after thirty-two years of teaching and now serves as Director of Ministry Development at Joni and Friends. (a ministry to the disabled, including the provision of wheelchairs to the needy throughout the world). link
Charles Krauthammer on Brit's show tonight was particularly good on this point.
Called Kerry's & Edwards position on this what it is: DEMAGOGUERY.
Thanks for this.
Bless Joni for speaking out on this issue! She's originally from my old neighborhood and I heard her speak many years ago.
Thanks for posting.
Warning...Salty Language on the blog.
What is it with John Fonda Kerry and the crips? First he uses Stumpy Cleland as a prop and now he has to drag Christopher Reeve in when discussing stem cells. Two things:
1. The lady made a point. So far adult stem cells have shown far more promise than embryonic stem cells.
2. Christopher Reeve is never gonna walk again without mechanical assistance. Even if they could magically get his nerves (which are upper motor neurons) to grow across the scar tissue in his spinal cord and regenerate all the way down the cord they would then have to regenerate the nerves (lower motor neurons) outside the cord. Everything below his level of injury is completely dead and gone. As a crip myself I keep track of this sh*t. We are years away from regrowing upper and lower motor neurons from scratch which is what would have to take place.
Just for context, here's a pic of Joni:
Krauthammer is disabled too, isn't he? I can't remember.
I've recently read her latest, "The God I Love," and it's a wonderful book.
a bump and a ping!
Kerry is despicable.
I would hope that if I ever fell off of a horse and broke my neck that I would not advocate destroying a "fetus" - to me a living child - in hopes of possibly curing my quadriplegia. Christopher Reeve, though I mourn his disability and his death, was a misguided activist!
Yes he is.
That's alright, Karma is such a harsh mistress.
My sister is alive because of ADULT stem cell research. She was told in November 1989 that it could very well be her last Christmas.
The docs suggested a bone marrow transplant as a last resort. I was the donor; extracting the bone marrow required 2 nights in the hospital, and a surgical procedure under general anesthesia. It was several weeks before I was really back to normal. But the transplant worked - at least for over a decade.
Then the cancer came back. She needed a "booster" - stem cells from me. This time there was no need for invasive surgery. They hooked me up to a plasmapheresis machine, and I watched movies for the day while the harvested the cells. Instead of surgery, I had a needle in each arm for 6 or 7 hours. Instead of general anesthesia, I was offered an Ativan - if I needed it. Pain? Only what you'd expect if you give blood. I left the hospital and went out to dinner.
We've had to do it again - the second time it took 2 days; but still, no surgery. No down time or recovery time for me - just the time I needed to be hooked up to the machine.
The difference? Researchers had learned how to extract stem cells from the blood stream, instead of having to actually go into the bones and extract the marrow.
Adult stem cell research is ALREADY saving lives; many adults and children are here today because of that research. And no unborn babies died so they could live.
Adult stem cells = minor inconvenience and minor discomfort for the donor who is doing this voluntarily
Exmryonic stem cells = an unborn baby never has the opportunity to live - and he/she has no say in the matter.
Looks pretty obvious to me which is the more ethical choice.
Yes I agree. His payback is coming in spades. I watched a clip of him on tv today and looks like a sharpei's butt when it sits down.
If we violate a human embryo today, tomorrow we will become callous about the fetus, then the infant, and then people with physical defects. A society that honors life will safeguard the rights of the disadvantaged, the weak and the small. ...
This eroding of the value of less-than-perfect human life also was discussed in the Francis A. Schaeffer/C. Everett Koop book and film series, "Whatever Happened to the Human Race?"
Thanks for posting this.
I hadn't heard about Joni in years. As an amateur artist myslef, I remember being amazed at the quality of her paintings all created with a mouth brush! Now that takes dedication and talent!
Sounds as if she's one smart cookie as well. Kudos to her.
That sounds reasonable. I think the abortion industry has become a big money making endeavor in this country, and it seems to me the promotional arm of their "industry" has decided if they can get "stem cell research" in the mix they'll be able to eventually recruit pregnant women on the street with humanitarian pleas and the argument that they will be doing good for mankind if they have an abortion. Then the argument of pro-lifers will be depicted as selfishness, and they will be demonized as trying to block humanitarian research. - You see, they can't get as much traction for using baby parts in face creams for rich women so they have to take another route.
Her ministry takes her all over the world, and she tells some heart-wrenching stories about people so grateful to receive the wheelchairs and hope she brings.
Read her book.
It's called Joni, and it is a compelling story.
She is a remarkable artist.
Years ago, some friends asked me if I was inspired by Reeve.. my answer: no. There are some things in life that should be accepted (see the Serenity Prayer). I can recall years ago some graphics artists did a video of Reeve standing up and walking. I was horrified at that! I saw that as something absolutly so vain - giving a false hope ... for what in the end? A political agenda.
I live a spiritual life and have respect for all life. I don't 'need' to walk to feel like a whole person. I don't look for pity or accept being labeled a victim. I refuse disability and insist on working may way.
I'm a conservative and really respect Charles Krauthammer. When he speaks, I listen.
Fantastic first-hand account! Thank you!
Thank you for sharing your story about your sister. More of these need to be shared -- so many are under the impression that the stem cells must be from the unborn to be medically useful.
I hope your sister is doing well. She's blessed to have you as her willing volunteer.
Thank you very much for your perspective on this matter, Dave. I've seen on another thread that John Edwards said something on Chris Matthews' show to the effect that people would be cured if he and Kerry were elected. Talk about false hope!
The problem I see with regenerating nerve tissue is not in developing cell lines, but rather the re-introduction of the cells and their eventual effect and ultimate disposition in the body.
There is no long-term assurance that a cell line which produces normal proteins will be viable in the body or that the body is capable of utilizing those proteins to regenerate functional tissues to replace damaged or non-existent tissues.
One could say it is pessimistic, but I would realistic, that affecting such cures is a long ways off in time if ever. Naturally, ones sense of eternal optimism envisions a day when science can not only regenerate nerve tissue, but perhaps regenerate entire limbs or organ systems. But at this point in the human condition that is folly.
The real point of the Left's focus on embryonic stem cell research is to validate in their own minds the murder of infants in the womb. This "sacrifice" is necessary in their minds to create the absurd possibility that a grown man, who undertakes a hazardous recreational activity, and is warned about the extreme risk of equestrian jumping, ignores the expert's advice and plunges to his paralysis, could have walked again if only we had allowed researchers to murder more infants. Nonsense. Reeves was never going to walk again no matter how much money was thrown at stem cell research. In a hundred years??? Maybe. But not in his lifetime.
Wow, thanks for posting!
My OBGYN is Catholic and has the brochures in his office; I signed up for this with my delivery in June of 2003 (but alas, with an almost-elevator-delivery and absense of doc, we forgot to Fed Ex within the hour.)
Hospital procedures are not friendly to this procedure; it is very cumbersome and requires tons of paperwork & notary, nobody there to facilitate the process. Mom has to arrive with her own lab kit & Fed Ex package. Quite unlike the ease of having tubes tied after delivery.
I've seen advertisements for such donations in parent magazines.
"Her ministry takes her all over the world, and she tells some heart-wrenching stories about people so grateful to receive the wheelchairs and hope she brings."
What a wonderful lady!
I've gained a new appreciation for wheelchairs over the last couple of months. My 7 year old son incurred a nasty break to his leg while bike riding on August 2nd.
He's still in a cast and uses crutches, but long trips without the wheelchair are out of the question. It came in very handy at the rally for President Bush in Chanhassen, MN this past Saturday. No way I would've wanted him to make that hike!
But we're the lucky ones. Eventually Jack will be walking again.
God bless Joni in her ministry. I can only imagine the smiles on the faces of those who receive the wheelchairs and the resultant mobility they bring.
Below links to a debate regarding the science of longevity, including the subject of cloning human embryos. It includes Dr. Krauthammer.
"Dr. Charles Krauthammer was born in New York City and raised in Montreal. He was educated at McGill University, majoring in political science and economics, Oxford University, and Harvard, where he earned his medical degree. He practiced medicine for three years, eventually becoming the chief resident in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1978, Krauthammer left medicine and moved to Washington, DC to work as the director of psychiatric research for the Carter Administration. He also began to contribute articles to The New Republic and served as a speechwriter to Vice President Walter Mondale during the 1980 presidential campaign. Winner of the 1984 National Magazine Award for essays and the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary, he began writing for The Washington Post in January 1985. His now-syndicated column appears in over 100 newspapers. He has served as a writer and editor for The New Republic and contributed articles to Time Magazine. In 1997, Washingtonian name him among the top 50 most influential journalists in the national press corps."
I believe so -- you would think that it shouldn't be a big deal to include post-partum tissues under current organ donation procedures.
If it ever came to that, there no way I would accept stem cell products from embryonic tissue, knowing the likelihood of how it was obtained...
Perhaps some of the Left supports embryonic stem cell use/research because they are trying to justify abortion -- I think that's a bit of a stretch. I work with some pretty exceptional neuroscientists and I believe there are all kinds of positive things coming out of research. That said, I'd put my money on adult stem cells.
RE: a point someone mentioned earlier - yes, "embryonic" stem cells can be obtained via placentas and the umbilical chord post birth. I have no clue why people aren't made aware of this - it would be a great way to get embryonic stem cells without killing babies. The abortion lobby has no (current) financial gain in it. My fear, if I were to consider such a "contribution" to science, would be how my DNA might be used for other experimentation. Just a personal consideration.
Charles Krauthammer is a gem, isn't he?
I read about what they have done to repair hearts. Apparently, (this is my rudimentary understanding of what I read), they gave injections of the stem cells into the heart and they grew and took over the sick areas with healthy tissue. Does anyone else have this understanding about how it works? If this is the case I would think it would be possible to inject the necessary cells around the damaged areas and they would take over.
Oh, and let me clarify - none of the folks I know are working on embryonic stem cells. I wouldn't be part of their work if they were.
Oh, and let me clarify - none of the folks I know are working on embryonic stem cells. I wouldn't be part of their work if they were.
Thanks for sharing your personal story!
Prayers continue for your sister.
As an aside, there was a report the other day that stem cells from "fat cells" warrant research as well.
There'd be plenty of volunteers lining up to donate their fat cell for science.
Keep the faith. :-)
I knew Joni before her accident. Her father - Johnnie Eareckson - was a very close friend of my former father-in-law and we met at a lot of social gatherings. She was just a couple of years older than my kids.
memcindoe, you must be from Catonsville?
Ping to thread and to StillProud's post. Freeper proof of the success.
God Bless you StillProud!
Shoot, I missed it! Was Mort listening? I believe Mort is very much for Embryonic Stem Cell research.
You are not wrong! This is the answer, but no human being would be killed in the process, so it won't be used.
Democrats demand that human life be sacrificed. That their demonic "right" to kill human life be protected and promoted.
What did mort have to say?