Tuesday, June 22, 2010

From Darkness to Light for Some Who are Blind

The following article from the Family Research Council regarding the use of a adult stem cells to restore sight in chemically blinded patients is just amazing. I have linked to it here so that you can read it for yourself -- it's brief.

Sight Restored to Blinded Patients Using Their Own Adult Stem Cells

But, this is more than just an interesting article to me, it is personal. My Uncle Jack, now in his 80's, was chemically blinded in both eyes over 50 years ago. It was a tragic accident that resulted in an explosion and the loss of his sight.

Over the years, the doctors tried everything they could to help restore vision to his eyes. He underwent surgery after surgery. And, for an all too brief period of time, he had partial sight. He was able to see the two youngest of his six children for the first time. What a joy! But, then like a candle with a short wick, the light diminished and his world returned to shadows and darkness.

My uncle is a man with great drive and imagination. With my "never quit" aunt by his side, they did astounding things with their life together. They raised 6 kids, bought a farm and started a successful winery, utilizing my uncle's chemistry expertise in a creative and, eventually, lucrative way. Their's has not been an ideal life -- they've faced many challenges and hardships. But, it was, for sure, a good life and an example to all of us that rising above adversity is possible. I wonder about the quote in the article that suggests the quality of a person's life is better with sight -- I'm not a big fan of the term "quality of life". I believe you can have an amazing quality of life even if you are like my uncle, blind; like my son Eddie, multiply disabled; like Terri Schiavo, in a vegetative state. Life just takes on a new quality, not necessarily a better or worse quality.

I would imagine that my uncle is too old for the procedure today. That makes me sad, because I know that he would enjoy seeing his grandchildren. But, the promise for those who have been chemically blinded is overwhelming. And, if I might just add -- NOT ONE BABY HAD TO DIE FOR THIS PROCESS TO BE POSSIBLE.

Adult stem cells are producing scientifically documented results. While embryonic stem cells are producing little to no results in laboratory animals. I am overjoyed by the fact that again we see that research on aborted embryos may be a scientific dinosaur. The results stem, no pun intended, from scientific approaches that are ethical and morally sound.

It is quite an achievement for those scientists who have developed this technique. It is, as well, quite a gift to those whose sight can be restored. And, for me it is an advance that our family has been praying for over the years, that unfortunately, my uncle will probably never get to enjoy, but will enhance the lives of many others.

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