First Person to Be Treated with Embryonic Stem Cells Speaks Out
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 11:28AM
MW Editor in federal funding, stem cell

Last week 21-year old Timothy J. Atchison, the first person to be treated with an experimental drug made from human embryonic stem cells, was interviewed by the Washington Post. Atchison had become paralyzed from the chest down as a result of a car accident last fall and just weeks later was told by doctors that he fit the criteria for the experimental procedure.

Atchison was raised in a Baptist family and lives in a small town "where the main road has more churches than fast-food restaurants." When he and his family were asked to volunteer to have the cells implanted into his spine, they asked clarifying questions about the source of embryonic stem cells and concluded that the opportunity to receive the treatment was "God's will."

The ethical implications of embryonic stem cell research are also thoughtfully explored through the eyes of the local pentecostal pastor who had counseled Atchison after his accident. Meanwhile, the issue continues to be debated in ongoing legal battles.

Last September, an appeals court lifted a temporary injunction blocking federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research. The federal government has resumed research while the court continues to reviews whether it violates a ban by Congress to spending taxpayer money for experiments that are connected with the destruction of human embryos. Proponents of the research contend that federally funded experiments only use cells obtained from embryos that have been destroyed using private money.

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