This came from someone I know in China!
In our view: Hope where none existed
— Need evidence that stem-cell research can produce miraculous results?Six-year-old Rylea Barlett, of Webb City, was born blind, with no hope of ever seeing. But her mother refused to give up, taking her to various specialists in the United States before finally trying stem-cell transplants from umbilical cords at a hospital in Hangzhou, China. After three spinal stem-cell transplants and two IV transplants, Rylea reacts to light, has seen the faces of her mother, brother and sister, and was able to detect a big “E” on the chart across the room in the office of Dr. Larry Brothers, her Joplin optometrist.Her vision is only 20/400. But that may be only the beginning. Rylea is supposed to return to Hangzhou for further stem-cell transplants in March. Although she may never see perfectly, as her mother, Dawn Barlett, said: “You continue to build on what you have gained.”Rylea’s experience offers hope to others who have been blind from birth or perhaps even were blinded in an accident or by a disease. The use of stem cells from umbilical cords has generated new optical nerve cells that allow Rylea to see.A man in Sikeston had stem-cell transplants in the Chinese hospital with the hope of repairing a spinal-cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He still can’t walk, but he is able to move his toes. No one can guarantee that stem-cell transplants, including the somatic cell nuclear transplants approved for research in Missouri by voters last year, will come up with cures or even ameliorate the ravages of debilitating disease or injury. But the research offers hope where little or none exists. Opponents of stem-cell research argue that the somatic cell nuclear transfer procedure amounts to cloning, despite the language in the amendment written into Missouri’s Constitution last year prohibiting human procreation by cloning, and want to put a stop to it through a grass-roots initiative petition campaign.The research in Missouri already is being hampered by an unstable climate being created by those who are continuing the efforts to overturn or thwart the purpose of the constitutional amendment. Plans for expanding this vital research reportedly have slowed. That is a shame. We don’t fault those who follow their consciences, but we think that they are caught in between rapid advances in medical science that have outpaced medical ethics and public understanding. Rylea is dramatic proof that research into the use of stem cells from the umbilical cord can work. That same hope exists for sufferers of other life-threatening, quality-of-life-dampening injuries and diseases. Their best hope is somatic cell nuclear transfer research here in Missouri, not in a faraway land or city like Hangzhou, China.
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