|02-16-2003, 12:20 PM||#1|
Join Date: Nov 2001
By: Erin O'Hearn
About seven years ago, Chris McMahon suffered a devastating car accident that left him partially paralyzed below the waist. But he hasn't let it get the best of him. He still works out, plays with his kids, and runs a successful business, thanks in part to the support of his family and friends.
McMahon said, "It's an incredible feeling you get knowing that all these people are behind you, will do anything for you, and they believe in you. For that reason it always keeps you driving for more."
A person McMahon believes in is Dr. Sally Temple of Albany Medical Center. She is one of the pioneers of stem cell research and believes one day, McMahon will walk again.
Temple said, "One of the things we are interested in is generating spinal cord cells"
McMahon organizes a golf tournament every June to raise money for Dr. Temple to continue stem cell research.
He said, "That is the most promising cure for any kind of paralysis, to be able to have stem cells regenerate the nerves that have been damaged."
But the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell research has limited the progress toward reversing degenerate diseases, and repairing spinal cord injuries. Dr. Temple said people opposed to the research are under a misperception.
"One has to realize that the cells and the cell line we are talking about in no way resemble a baby. We're talking about a small group of cells that could not live outside of the culture dish," said Temple.
Temple also said those opposed to embryonic stem cell research aren't making a consistent argument because they're not opposed to in vitro fertilization; a procedure in which only a small number of embryos created have the potential to be implanted. The rest are often discarded according to Temple.
Temple said, "If they would say to those people who want a baby, how could you do this, how could you generate so many embryos knowing that most of them are not going to be used? They don't apply that argument in that case, so I see there is an inconsistency there."
Stem cell research has become both a public and political debate, but for spinal cord injury patients and their families it is a very personal issue.
McMahon said, "Anyone who knows someone who is in a situation like I'm in, and there are plenty of people who are far worse than I am, if you know them, you'd do anything to help them because it's not pleasant."
Both Temple and McMahon hope the Bush Administration will reconsider their limitations on stem cell research so people with spinal cord injuries can have a chance at overcoming their limitations.