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We should support stem cell research

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I have very strong feelings about the support of stem cell research, and I should – I have a friend whose life could be dramatically changed from the benefits of stem cell therapy.

Imagine you’ve just turned 16 and are right in the middle of your sophomore year of high school. You’re a gorgeous, vibrant, ambitious girl who loves to cheer and swim, donate your time to worthy causes, and just won your first beauty pageant – and a scholarship to attend the college of your choice along with it – the key to fulfilling your dreams and making the picture of your future in your head a reality. You’re busy, but your grades are stellar; you love your life, your friends, and you never forget to say, “Hey mom, how was your day?” as soon as you get home. You’re basically on top of the world.

Then, in the blink of an eye, you lose it all. You can’t walk, you can’t see, you can’t talk. Even your teeth are missing. Mom no longer hears your voice to ask how her day was when you get home. You lose just about everything, except your life, because you were too stubborn to die at 16 and not leave your mark on the world. You fought, and you continue to fight each day in your rehabilitation therapies, with a gracious smile.

In a nut shell, this is the story of my friend, Sarah (name has been changed for anonymity). Her life has never been the same since her car accident. The accident was not a result of any reckless drinking, or texting, or making phone calls (we know because she was with her family right before she got in her car, and her phone records have been reviewed). None of us know how this devastating accident happened, an accident that has left Sarah with a severe brain injury, but we do know that with the continued support of stem cell research, one day, Sarah might just have the chance to live her life the way she’s always envisioned. And as her friend, nothing could give me more happiness in my entire life than to see this amazing girl, someone so undeserving of what happened to her, thrive.

I know that I am not alone. Millions of Americans suffer from debilitating health struggles like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, spinal cord injuries and even brain injuries. With these people come countless of other family members and friends who want nothing more than to have this person back to normal.

Upon researching this topic further, I learned the other side of the argument: people feel that embryonic stem cells are human organisms, and it is not right to experiment on human beings, or stop human life from developing. If this is true, then how is someone who is already living and can benefit from stem cell therapy any different? Is it fair to see their lives, in a sense, end too? There are countless fully-developed human beings who willingly give of themselves – blood, bone marrow, organs – to help others. Embryonic stem cells are essentially no different. They may not have the full-blown ability to make the decisions themselves, but that is only in a “what-if” situation and essentially irrelevant, as the cells are not full-blown humans.

Judge Royce C. Lamberth’s latest decision to reverse funding of stem cell research is a shame. Science is there to improve the lives of others, and cutting off funding to do so inhibits that purpose. Nothing is ever impossible, Sarah taught me. To me, stem cells could be the bridge between dreams and reality.

By Francine Rios

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