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Stem Cell Research: Interview with Joni Eareckson Tada (quadriplegic disagreed with Chris Reeve)
Joni and Friends website (PDF) ^ | unkn | Joni Eareckson Tada

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 ...

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: abortion; christopherreeve; escr; ethics; joni; medicine; reeve; stemcell; stemcells; tada
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
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Q: You reject using embryonic stem cells for research and champion the use of adult stem cells. Why?

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

1 posted on 10/11/2004 6:05:54 PM PDT by mountaineer
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To: mountaineer

Charles Krauthammer on Brit's show tonight was particularly good on this point.

Called Kerry's & Edwards position on this what it is: DEMAGOGUERY.

2 posted on 10/11/2004 6:07:44 PM PDT by martin_fierro (Want some wood?)
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To: mountaineer

Thanks for this.

3 posted on 10/11/2004 6:09:44 PM PDT by DaughterofEve (W)
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To: NYer; Salvation; Mr. Silverback


4 posted on 10/11/2004 6:10:35 PM PDT by Jaded ((Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. - Mark Twain))
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To: mountaineer

Bless Joni for speaking out on this issue! She's originally from my old neighborhood and I heard her speak many years ago.

5 posted on 10/11/2004 6:13:19 PM PDT by memcindoe (My ancestral motto: This I Will Defend!)
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To: mountaineer
I remember meeting this lady when she came to our church in Maryland. That was the early 70's.

Thanks for posting.

6 posted on 10/11/2004 6:14:22 PM PDT by perfect stranger (The Hummer is a regular Pat Buchanan on wheels." PJ O'Rourke from C&D magazine)
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To: mountaineer
From a blog called "Grouchy Old Cripple"....

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.

7 posted on 10/11/2004 6:15:29 PM PDT by Vigilantcitizen (Have a burger and a beer and enjoy your liquid vegetables.)
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To: martin_fierro
He's exactly right. It's also the basest exploitation of the sick and helpless - pretty hypocritical, considering the Dems' accusation that Bush is exploiting Sept. 11 for political gain.

Just for context, here's a pic of Joni:

8 posted on 10/11/2004 6:15:55 PM PDT by mountaineer
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To: mountaineer

Pro-Life bump!

9 posted on 10/11/2004 6:16:25 PM PDT by k2blader (It is neither compassionate nor conservative to support the expansion of socialism.)
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To: martin_fierro

Krauthammer is disabled too, isn't he? I can't remember.

10 posted on 10/11/2004 6:17:40 PM PDT by sassbox
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To: memcindoe; DaughterofEve

I've recently read her latest, "The God I Love," and it's a wonderful book.

11 posted on 10/11/2004 6:17:45 PM PDT by mountaineer
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To: mountaineer
Can anyone answer this for me?

If there are embryonic stem cells in the umbilical cord and the placenta, why don't they just ask women to donate the placenta to the reseacrh labs? I don't have kids, but I am fairly certain that the placenta is discarded after delivery. If it going to be discarded, why not donate it, and then you didn't kill an embryo. I may be wrong on this, so please correct me if I am wrong.
12 posted on 10/11/2004 6:17:47 PM PDT by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (Pobody's Nerfect)
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To: mountaineer; shezza

a bump and a ping!

13 posted on 10/11/2004 6:18:40 PM PDT by N8VTXNinWV (Hello my name is Native Texan, and I, too, am a freepaholic.)
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To: Vigilantcitizen

Kerry is despicable.

14 posted on 10/11/2004 6:19:34 PM PDT by cyborg (
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To: All
There's more to the interview if you click on the link - I just didn't transcribe the whole thing, as it was in PDF format. Her website has several medical research/ethics links, too.
15 posted on 10/11/2004 6:22:55 PM PDT by mountaineer
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To: mountaineer
She & Mort Kondracke were on Cal Thomas' show on Sunday. She's a lovely, well spoken women.
16 posted on 10/11/2004 6:23:26 PM PDT by tsmith130 ("Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called "walking."" - GWB)
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To: mountaineer

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!

17 posted on 10/11/2004 6:24:14 PM PDT by Doctor Don
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To: cyborg
Kerry is despicable.

Yes he is.

That's alright, Karma is such a harsh mistress.

18 posted on 10/11/2004 6:27:07 PM PDT by Vigilantcitizen (Have a burger and a beer and enjoy your liquid vegetables.)
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To: mountaineer; Calpernia; nw_arizona_granny; Velveeta

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.

19 posted on 10/11/2004 6:27:08 PM PDT by StillProud2BeFree
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To: Vigilantcitizen

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.

20 posted on 10/11/2004 6:29:42 PM PDT by cyborg (
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To: Doctor Don
The thing is, if you ever fell off a horse and broke your neck, it's not exactly a philosophical stretch to say your life isn't worth living and that therefore, to ease the burden on society, your life should be terminated - just like an aborted fetus. Joni addresses this slippery slope in the interview:

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?"

21 posted on 10/11/2004 6:30:18 PM PDT by mountaineer
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To: mountaineer

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.

22 posted on 10/11/2004 6:31:07 PM PDT by mplsconservative (Old media = lies. New media = truth.)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

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.

23 posted on 10/11/2004 6:31:31 PM PDT by Twinkie
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To: cyborg
I watched a clip of him on tv today and looks like a sharpei's butt when it sits down.

BWAAAAAhahaha! ;)

24 posted on 10/11/2004 6:32:25 PM PDT by Vigilantcitizen (Have a burger and a beer and enjoy your liquid vegetables.)
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To: mplsconservative

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.

25 posted on 10/11/2004 6:33:30 PM PDT by mountaineer
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To: mountaineer

Read her book.
It's called Joni, and it is a compelling story.
She is a remarkable artist.

26 posted on 10/11/2004 6:36:45 PM PDT by mabelkitty (W is the Peoples' President ; Kerry is the Elite Establishment's President)
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To: sassbox
Yes he uses a wheelchair.. so do I.

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.

27 posted on 10/11/2004 6:39:21 PM PDT by DaveMSmith (One Day at A Time || Blue Angel in PJs)
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To: StillProud2BeFree

Fantastic first-hand account! Thank you!

28 posted on 10/11/2004 6:43:52 PM PDT by DaughterofEve (W)
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To: StillProud2BeFree

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.

29 posted on 10/11/2004 6:48:21 PM PDT by FourPeas (In high school, John Kerry was voted Most Likely to Dork.)
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To: DaveMSmith

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!

30 posted on 10/11/2004 6:52:23 PM PDT by mountaineer
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To: mountaineer
Oops, my bad - according to the thread it was a clip of Edwards speaking at a campaign event, and he said if Bush would have allowed stem cell research then Christopher Reeves would have just gotten up from his wheelchair and walked. More junk science from the sleazeball attorney who made a fortune on it!
31 posted on 10/11/2004 6:56:14 PM PDT by mountaineer
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To: mountaineer
Most people are probably familiar with the concepts of bone marrow transplantation or stem cell transplant. In certain forms of hematologic cancers patients receive high dose chemotherapy in combination with full body radiation in hopes of killing cancerous cells. Unfortunately, it also deletes healthy cells, specifically WBCs. That is why prior to the therapy patients are placed in a temporary remission and regenerative stem cells are extracted, filtered and cultured, then returned to the patient where they seek out the marrow and regenerate the life-giving cells.

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.

32 posted on 10/11/2004 6:57:39 PM PDT by Doc Savage
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To: StillProud2BeFree

Wow, thanks for posting!

33 posted on 10/11/2004 6:58:05 PM PDT by agrace
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

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.

34 posted on 10/11/2004 7:04:57 PM PDT by practicalmom
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

I've seen advertisements for such donations in parent magazines.

35 posted on 10/11/2004 7:09:31 PM PDT by Jessarah
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To: mountaineer

"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.

36 posted on 10/11/2004 7:14:08 PM PDT by mplsconservative (Old media = lies. New media = truth.)
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To: martin_fierro; All
Charles Krauthammer on Brit's show tonight was particularly good on this point. Called Kerry's & Edwards position on this what it is: DEMAGOGUERY.

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."

37 posted on 10/11/2004 7:25:35 PM PDT by unspun (RU working your precinct, churchmembers, etc. 4 good votes? | Not "Unspun w/ AnnaZ" but I appreciate)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

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...

38 posted on 10/11/2004 7:36:30 PM PDT by mikrofon (Pro Life Bump)
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To: mountaineer
I just talked to a man today who had leukemia earlier this year. They removed his bone marrow and gave him umbilical cord stem cells. He is doing good and right now he doesn't have leukemia. Praise the LORD. It was really good to hear his story.
39 posted on 10/11/2004 7:47:14 PM PDT by Bellflower (A new day is coming!)
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To: Doc Savage

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?

40 posted on 10/11/2004 7:49:44 PM PDT by Endeavor
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To: Doc Savage
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.

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.

41 posted on 10/11/2004 8:01:37 PM PDT by Bellflower (A new day is coming!)
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To: Doc Savage

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.

42 posted on 10/11/2004 8:05:11 PM PDT by Endeavor
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To: Doc Savage

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.

43 posted on 10/11/2004 8:05:55 PM PDT by Endeavor
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To: StillProud2BeFree

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. :-)

44 posted on 10/11/2004 8:12:11 PM PDT by Velveeta
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To: perfect stranger; memcindoe
I remember meeting this lady when she came to our church in Maryland. That was the early 70's.

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?

45 posted on 10/11/2004 8:21:06 PM PDT by jackbill
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To: StillProud2BeFree; Coleus

Ping to thread and to StillProud's post. Freeper proof of the success.

God Bless you StillProud!

46 posted on 10/11/2004 9:42:43 PM PDT by Calpernia (
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To: mountaineer; 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; ...

47 posted on 10/11/2004 9:50:03 PM PDT by Coleus (God gave us the right to life and self preservation and a right to defend ourselves and families)
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To: martin_fierro

Shoot, I missed it! Was Mort listening? I believe Mort is very much for Embryonic Stem Cell research.

48 posted on 10/11/2004 10:31:51 PM PDT by tuckrdout (Grant Teri Schindler (Schiavo) her wishes: Divorce and LIFE!)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

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.

Cord Blood Stem-Cell Research Working
by Keith Peters, Washington, D.C., correspondent

Science involving stem cells doesn't have to take a life to be successful.

A growing body of research is showing the value of umbilical cord blood stem cells in the treatment of disease—an alternative to destroying human embryos in the name of science.

The face of that success was on Capitol Hill yesterday—in the form of 4-year-old Joseph Davis, Jr. He had sickle-cell anemia, and doctors did not hold out much hope for him. But his mother and father had been informed of the value of banking umbilical cord blood stem cells, and when their second child was born, they were able to take those stem cells and transplant them into young Joseph.

Today, he's healthy and lively and cured of sickle-cell anemia.

"Not going to the doctor no more and looking at him saying he's healed from the disease" is a great feeling, his mother, Darlene Davis, said. "No more medication, no nothing. And I'm at peace now."

Dr. Paul Billings, of the University of California at Berkeley, said this is but one powerful example of the benefits of cord blood stem-cell therapy.

"You will have a sample readily available of the best stem-cell therapeutic for a disorder that might occur in you, or a sibling or your mother or father or other close relative," he said.

Billings said people need to know that there are banks and storage places for cord-blood stem cells.

"There are people dying, waiting for transplants, who could be saved and treated and beginning to live happy and healthier lives—if they'd only known that they could store stem cells for free," Billings said.

Every year, more 3.9 million potentially life-saving umbilical cords are simply discarded.

Sadly, only 1,000 clients are enrolled in the designated transplant program. That's shockingly low considering that 70 diseases are proven to be treatable through cord blood stem cells. Dr. Billings said that contrasts with what he calls the "pie-in-the-sky" hopes coming from supporters of embryonic stem-cell research.

Stem cell research is a new frontier in medical science. The current public debate primarily involves embryonic stem cell research. This debate will continue as government, science and society grapple with the ethical and moral questions raised by using human embryos for experimentation. While this topic is complex, it is important to understand the basic concepts of stem cell research and the potential danger that allowing research on human embryos poses to all of us.

Unborn Baby's Umbilical Cord Stopped Mother's Leukemia

Montreal, Canada (Montreal Gazette 10.26.2002)-- In what might be a world first, doctors at Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal transfused a woman suffering from leukemia with the umbilical-cord blood of her baby daughter.

Seven months later, 27-year-old Patrizia Durante is in complete remission and credits her daughter with saving her life.

"I gave my daughter life, and then she gave mine back," Ms. Durante said yesterday, cradling 13-month-old Victoria. "It's a miracle. She was meant to be born to save me."

Umbilical-cord blood is usually banked for later use by the child should she develop a life-threatening illness such as leukemia. Dr. Pierre Laneuville, director of hematology at the McGill University Health Center, said he believes the offspring-to-parent transplant is the first of its kind in the world.

Ms. Durante's case highlights the growing interest by doctors in using umbilical cord blood as an effective alternative to bone-marrow transplants. "We're elated," Dr. Laneuville said. "This is the best-case scenario we could possibly have imagined.... From a doctor's point of view, the chances are she's cured."

Umbilical cord blood is rich in hemopoietic stem cells -- the kind of cells that can rebuild a blood system damaged by heavy doses of chemotherapy. In Ms. Durante's case, the stem cells regenerated her blood system and destroyed the residual cancer cells in her body.

"We are now in an era where we are realizing scientifically and medically that we have sources of stem cells that can become other tissues and can be used therapeutically," Dr. Laneuville said. "And the most accessible source and the one we're throwing in the garbage all the time are these cord cells."

Durante, a Laval financial advisor, learned she was suffering from acute myloid leukemia when she was 26 weeks pregnant with Victoria, her first child.

"It was terrifying," she recalled. "I was afraid for the baby. I was afraid of dying and not being there for my daughter. It was very stressful and difficult for my family."

Durante underwent moderate doses of chemotherapy while pregnant. She did not respond to the drugs, so her doctors decided to induce labor so they could switch to high doses without risking harm to the baby. On Sept. 2, 2001, Victoria was born two months premature, weighing three-and-a-half pounds. She was placed in an incubator while her mother renewed her chemotherapy.

At the time, doctors were looking for a suitable donor for a bone-marrow transplant, even though Victoria's umbilical-cord blood had been frozen in liquid nitrogen. But by last March, Ms. Durante was severely ill and she could not wait any longer for a bone-marrow transplant.

Dr. Laneuville decided to infuse her with Victoria's cord blood, although the procedure was risky because Durante's body might have rejected the blood.

Ideally, individuals should be infused with their own banked cord blood. Victoria's blood, however, was only a half-match, carrying her mother's genes as well as her father's.

"But in this case, the incompatibility -- that is, the genes that the baby's dad contributed -- theoretically could have been very beneficial in this transplant," Dr. Laneuville said.

"Part of the blood cells include the immune system. There was the possibility that the immune system of the baby may identify the leukemia as foreign and attack. That's something that's beneficial."

The baby's cord blood did exactly that to her mother's leukemia. The stem cells also flooded Ms. Durante's bloodstream and stuck to her bone marrow -- the part of the body that manufactures the blood -- and began rebuilding her blood system.

"So what is circulating in her veins now is actually her baby's blood," he said. "She has her baby's blood system in her at the present time."

Dr. Laneuville said "mismatched" cord blood might be effective in controlling Ms. Durante's type of cancer, but stressed cord blood transplants should be used only as a last resort.

Scientists are also studying whether stem cells derived from cord blood can repair damaged heart and brain tissue. Preliminary results from animal studies are promising. Doctors are now carrying out clinical trials on humans in the United States and Europe to determine whether such stem cells can repair damaged heart muscle.

Unlike embryonic stem cells -- which have sparked a huge ethical debate -- stem cells from cord blood are free of any moral considerations.

Dr. Laneuville urged authorities to set up a public cord blood bank for research and therapeutic purposes

Stem-cell recipient celebrates second birthday

COVINGTON, Ky. (CNS) -- As the debate about embryonic stem-cell research rages on, Anne Rugari wants the world to know about the miraculous research that saved her baby's life without ending the lives of other babies.

Thanks to stem cells obtained from the umbilical cords of newborns, little Gina Rugari was thriving as she celebrated her second birthday Dec. 23. Gina was born with a disease known as Krabbe leukodystrophy, a rare, degenerative enzyme disorder of the central and peripheral nervous system.

Children who inherit the disease lack an important enzyme that is a component of the white matter of the brain, called myelin. This enzyme deficiency produces toxins in the brain, causing myelin loss and neurological symptoms.

The disease is not usually evident until three to six months after birth, when the baby begins to show signs such as extreme irritability and developmental delay or regression. Later symptoms include seizures and unexplainable fevers. Eventually, after progressive deterioration including blindness and deafness, the baby dies before age 2.

Anne and Phil Rugari had a son, Nick, in 1986. Typical of babies born with Krabbe, he developed symptoms and died at age 1. In January 1999, when their other son, Philip, was a sophomore at Covington Catholic High School, he decided to do a biology research paper on the rare disease that had claimed the life of his little brother.

When Anne was pregnant with Gina, she declined prenatal testing but had the baby tested immediately after birth. Gina had the disease, but thanks to the research Philip had done, the Rugaris knew about an experimental cord blood stem-cell transplant that had been performed at Duke University in 1996.

Four days of intense testing at Duke proved that Gina was a good candidate for the transplant, but if her body rejected it, she would die. It was a huge risk with only a 50/50 chance of success, but two other babies had received the transplant by this time, and they had survived.

The family knew that without the procedure Gina would live only about a year, and that she would be very sick during that year. The difficult decision had to be made immediately.

Anne said that Philip was the strongest, insisting that they should do the procedure and that Gina would live. "The Rock," as they began to call him, encouraged his parents every step of the way, as they struggled and cried at the end of each day of grueling testing and treatment.

They decided to proceed, and a match was found. The stem cells from the newborn infant's umbilical cord blood would carry the enzyme Gina was missing. She underwent nine days of chemotherapy to wipe out her immune system so the new cord blood could be infused on day 10, followed by a waiting period to see if her body would accept the new cells. Thankfully, it did.

Anne and Gina stayed at Duke for the next five months, the first three in isolation, since her immune system was immobilized.

At home now, Gina is doing well. She is developmentally behind, possibly because of the chemotherapy or the early days of carrying the disease. Doctors believe she will catch up in time, and she shows no signs of the disease.

More babies with Krabbe have survived since Gina's experience, and scientists are hopeful. Interestingly, only children who have lost an older sibling to the disease are saved, because transplants must take place very soon after birth, and typically there is no reason to test for the disease, which claims the lives of 50 to 60 children annually.

All of the progress on this disease has been made using umbilical cord blood. Duke performs 300 transplants a year for many kinds of metabolic and genetic diseases using cord blood stem cells, and they are experiencing great success. On the other hand, no permanent progress on any disease has been made using stem cells from human embryos.

Q. What is a stem cell?

A. A stem cell is a cell that has the potential to develop into different types of cells. Stem cells are the basic building blocks of the human body. In embryos, these master cells become the 200 or so distinct cell types in the body. In adults, stem cells replenish existing cells when they wear out or are destroyed.

Q. What are the sources of stem cells?

A. All of our bodies contain stem cells. For research, there are primarily two types of stem cells: embryonic and non-embryonic. Both types of stem cells are undifferentiated and developmentally flexible. Embryonic stem cells come from embryos. In order to collect these cells, the living, human embryo must be destroyed. Non-embryonic stem cells (also called adult stem cells) come from a variety of sources, including skin cells, bone marrow, placenta, umbilical cord blood, brain cells and body fat. No human lives are destroyed in harvesting adult cells.

Q. What is the potential for embryonic stem cell research?

A. Scientists first discovered they could isolate and harvest stem cells from human embryos in 1998. The versatility of these cells leads scientists to speculate that embryonic stem cells may be coaxed into becoming any number of cell types, thereby holding great promise for healing the human body — from possible cures for diabetes and heart disease to treatments for burns and spinal cord injuries. To date, scientists attempting to use embryonic stem cells in such research have failed to develop a successful animal or human model confirming their theory. This means there has been no demonstrated benefit to patients from embryonic stem cell research.

Q. What about non-embryonic and adult stem cell research?

A. Ongoing research using non-embryonic stem cell sources is very promising, even indicating that developed adult stem cells may be as “flexible” as embryonic ones and equally capable of converting into various cell types for healing the body. In recent years, many researchers have concluded that it was speculative to believe that embryonic stem cells are better than adult stem cells. A June 2001 National Institutes of Health report concluded that, “it is impossible to predict which stem cells...will best meet the needs of basic research and clinical applications.”

Excitement over adult stem cell research has increased dramatically because of successes in treating patients with these cells. Therapies using stem cells from sources such as bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, and the pancreas have proven successful in treating patients with various conditions.

For instance, in April 2002, a Los Angeles physician reported effectively treating the symptoms of a 59-year old male Parkinson’s patient using the patient’s own neuronal (brain) stem cells — reducing his symptoms by more than 80 percent.--- (Stem cells do their stuff for Parkinson's patient," New Scientist, April 13, 2002)

Adult stem cells are also used to remedy bone fractures or wounds with severe scarring and infections. In addition, researchers are optimistic about developments in clinical trials using adult stem cells to treat heart attack damage, as well as the potential for using adult stem cells in the development of tissue and cartilage for transplantation.

Tangible Therapies for Today

Diabetes – Eleven out of 15 Type 1 diabetes patients are "completely off insulin" after receiving adult pancreatic cell transplants. ---- (Cell grafts lend freedom to diabetics," Medical Post, June 19, 2001)

Diabetes – Researchers at Harvard Medical School used animal adult stem cells to grow new islet cells to combat diabetes. Researcher Denise Faustman recalled, "It was astonishing! We had reversed the disease without the need for transplants." Plans for human trials are underway. --(Adult stem cells effect a cure," Harvard University Gazette, July 19, 2001)

Heart Disease – German heart specialist Bodo Eckehard Strauer successfully treated a heart patient using stem cells from the man's bone marrow: "Even patients with the most seriously damaged hearts can be treated with their own stem cells instead of waiting and hoping on a transplant," Dr. Strauer explained.---(Stem cell therapy repairs a heart," Daily Telegraph (London), Aug. 25, 2001)

Heart Disease - "Four out of five seriously sick Brazilian heart-failure patients no longer needed a heart transplant after being treated with their own stem cells." (Stem cells used to repair heart tissue," MSNBC News, accessed on September 8, 2003 )

Sickle Cell Anemia – CBS' "60 Minutes II" reported on 15-year-old Keone Penn, who doctors at the University of Pittsburgh say was cured of sickle cell anemia by following intensive chemotherapy with an injection of stem cells from umbilical cord blood. According to the report, "the stem cells changed his entire blood system from type O to type B," giving Penn a clean bill of health.--("Holy Grail: Stem cells from umbilical cord blood used to save a boy's life"; Transcript of Nov. 28, 2001 program )

Acute Myloid Leukemia – Sixteen-year-old Nathan Salley is alive today, thanks to stem cells from umbilical cord blood. Nathan told a congressional subcommittee, "I am living proof that there are promising and useful alternatives to embryonic stem cell research. . .Embryonic stem cell research did not save me – cord blood research did." (Teenager testifies he's ‘living proof' of stem-cell option, Denver Post, July 22, 2001.)

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – Thirty-six-year old Susan Stross is one of more than 20 MS patients whose conditions have remained steady or improved after receiving an adult stem cell transplant. The same results are reported with several hundred patients worldwide.--("High on the future: Already saving lives, stem cell research may soon be in full swing," Seattle Times, Aug. 20, 2001)

Parkinson's Disease – "Jefferson researchers have early evidence of bone marrow stem cells able to become brain cells." (Thomas Jefferson University news release, Nov. 12, 2001)

Improved Stroke Recovery – "Cells from human umbilical cord blood help rats recover from stroke faster, new study finds." (University of South Florida Health Sciences Center News Release, Nov. 8, 2001.)

Blood Stem Cell Transplant – "Transplantation: Surgical team uses standard stem cell procedure in unique way for kidney recipient."

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma – Forty-year-old Mark Fulford was not a match for a conventional bone marrow transplant, so doctors turned to stem cells found in umbilical cord blood. "There are people alive now who wouldn't have been without this, and I'm living proof."

St. Louis Cord Blood Bank – "Everyone here gets a sense of accomplishment, recognizing that about 100 lives are saved each year by the (umbilical cord blood) products from this bank alone," said Director Michael Creer.

Promise for Tomorrow

Reports of "Ultimate Stem Cell" discoveries –

"A stem cell has been found in adults that can turn into every single tissue in the body. It might turn out to be the most important cell ever discovered."

Researchers at New York University School of Medicine announced, "There is a cell in the bone marrow that can serve as the stem cell for most, if not all, of the organs in the body. . . . This study provides the strongest evidence yet that the adult body harbors stem cells that are as flexible as embryonic stem cells."

McGill University researchers discover "stem cells deep in the skin of rats and humans that can become fat, muscle or even brain cells. . . . Scientists are driven by the hope of bringing science closer to treatments for spinal cord injuries, juvenile diabetes, heart disease and brain disorders — treatments made from patients' own cells."

These are stem cells from adult bone marrow that do not trigger rejection, "even after the cells differentiate into specialized tissues such as bone or fat." The "cells seem to go only to damaged areas . . . (turning) into heart muscle, blood vessels, and fibrous tissue."

For more information, see expert testimony given at the Hearing on Advances in Adult and Non-Embryonic Stem Cell Research before the U.S. Senate Committee on Science, Technology, and Space, Thursday, June 12 2003.

Q. What is the argument against destroying human embryos for their stem cells?

A. Biologically, an embryo represents one of the earliest stages of human life. Human development progresses in a continuum, from the single cell to the embryonic stage, then a fetus, newborn, toddler, adolescent and adult. Embryos, whether created through in vitro fertilization, cloning or sexual intercourse, are fully human and deserve protection. The weakest and most vulnerable member of the human family — the embryo — should not be the subject of scientific experimentation. It is never morally or ethically justified to destroy one human in order to possibly save another. Advances in adult stem cell research provide both tangible hope for patients and an ethical avenue for developing the therapies they need.

Q. What is the legal status of embryonic stem cell research in the United States?

A. Since 1996, Congress has approved an annual provision to the Health and Human Services (HHS) appropriations bill specifically prohibiting federal funding of any "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death." This language is the basis for the ongoing federal ban on funding for research using human embryos. Congress must reauthorize this ban, dubbed the "Dickey Amendment," each year.

In August 2000, HHS, under President Clinton's leadership, published new guidelines for research using human embryos. These guidelines create a loophole that essentially claims if privately funded scientists destroy the embryos and extract their stem cells, government-funded scientists can conduct experiments with those stem cells without violating the federal ban.

On August 9, 2001, President Bush announced he would reject the Clinton Administration's guidelines and only allow federal dollars for research on approximately 60 existing embryonic stem cell lines already created in privately funded laboratories. The president outlined four conditions for the use of existing cell lines:

The embryos were destroyed and the cell lines were created before the August 9 speech
The embryos were among the "excess" frozen embryos stored in fertility clinics created through in vitro fertilization for reproductive purposes
The parents gave their consent for the embryo to be destroyed
The parents were not offered any financial incentive in return for donating the embryo
There is debate over whether or not the Bush policy violates the "Dickey Amendment" prohibiting the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. Ethical questions are also raised by the use of federal tax dollars for research on existing stem cell lines that required the destruction of human embryos.

Q. How is the private sector involved in embryonic stem cell research?

A. Privately funded scientists continue to conduct human embryo research for stem cells. For example, research at the University of Wisconsin, where the first embryonic cells were harvested and cultured, was privately funded. President Bush's policy only affects federally funded research.

49 posted on 10/11/2004 10:36:47 PM PDT by tuckrdout (Grant Teri Schindler (Schiavo) her wishes: Divorce and LIFE!)
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To: tsmith130

What did mort have to say?

50 posted on 10/11/2004 10:40:06 PM PDT by tuckrdout (Grant Teri Schindler (Schiavo) her wishes: Divorce and LIFE!)
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