Sonia most often caused by a clogged artery.

Sonia Olea, a 32 year old stroke victim, lost the ability to do even the most mundane tasks. Losing the ability to speak clearly or use her right arm and leg had taken its toll on Sonia. She felt defeated. A stroke is most often caused by a clogged artery. This cuts off the source of oxygen and other nutrients to the brain resulting in the loss of brain cells in just minutes (Mayo Clinic). A year and a half after her stroke, Sonia got a call from Stanford University to participate in a stem-cell based research study. She graciously accepted this opportunity. Being one of the first trials of its kind, there wasn’t much previous knowledge on how it would affect the patients. The goal of the trial was to test the safety and effectiveness of stem cell treatment. Sonia had brain surgery where they took bone marrow stem cells and transplanted them into her brain. In the past it was believed “that you couldn’t recover from a stroke after about three months” (qtd. in Aholden). However, this trial says otherwise. Almost immediately after the surgery she saw drastic improvements. After the surgery she continued to improve as well. She said her leg is “95 percent better” and her arm “is around 60 percent there” (qtd. in Aholden). This procedure, while still in the preliminary stage, has exponentially improved Sonia’s life. Simple tasks such as talking on the phone and going on a walk are now manageable for her because of the stem cell research. Despite success stories like this, there is still much debate over whether or not the research is moral. See embryonic stem cell research uses human blastulae, 100 cell fertilized eggs, for the rapid collection of stem cells from specialized cells (King). To do this, specialized cells are taken and turned back into undeveloped cell embryos or stem cells. At this point, pathways that artificially replicate the human body can be found and stem cells can be manipulated to become the type of cell needed. This procedure allows for the ability to re-specialize these cells into 270 different specialized cells, and therefore offers many tremendous opportunities in regenerative medicine and therapeutic cloning. Opponents equate the use of embryonic stem cells with killing a human life, and do not see the benefit as worth the loss. However, this argument shouldn’t be compelling enough to stop the research. The use of stem cells to save the lives of those already born supersedes the concern for cell blastulae that are not independently viable. The human blastulae grow from a fertilized egg and can only survive a short period of time before it must be placed into the womb. In research, the human blastulae used are made artificially in the lab or at a fertility clinic. In order to get the stem cells, scientists have to destroy the blastulae. This is why opponents say that it is  equivalent to destroying an unborn child. Proponents say, correctly, that the blastulae are not living humans until they are implanted into the uterus, citing that the blastulae have no chance at life without the embedding process. An additional argument used by those that support this research points out the large excess of human blastulae created by fertility clinics each year. If unused, these blastulae are simply thrown away. Surely the use of these cells for research, which has already been proven beneficial in developing potentially life saving medical treatments, makes much more sense than merely disposing of them as though they were useless trash. Stem cells offer the potential to treat or even cure an array of diseases, seemingly incurable diseases—certain cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s—affecting millions of people’s lives. People with hearing and vision loss could also be treated. If the cells are going to be eliminated either way, why not allow them be used to advance medical capabilities and increase our knowledge of potential treatments  for the multiple diseases we currently have no cure for?While I think we should continue to ask ourselves if something is right or wrong based on ethical guidelines, this opinion is hindering our ability to develop new technology which is keeping us behind. In 2006, President Bush vetoed a bill, previously passed by the senate, to increase the funding to embryonic stem cell research. This limited federal funding to research on existing embryos (already destroyed).  No federal funding was going to researchers who utilized artificially grown embryos to revert them back into their stem cells. This left doctors and researchers unable to advance their learnings.   In March of 2009, only four months after his induction, President Obama reversed Bush’s ruling by an executive order, allowing federal funding to go embryonic stem cell research, including the requirement that scientists abide by the sharing of data policy of the National Institutes of Health. President Obama gave this statement about the executive order: Today, with the Executive Order I am about to sign, we will bring the change that so many scientists and researchers; doctors and innovators; patients and loved ones have hoped for, and fought for, these past eight years: we will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research. We will vigorously support scientists who pursue this research. And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield.President Obama knew that in order for America to stay relevant when it comes to stem cell research he had to do this. He also knew that the possible implications of the research can be extremely beneficial and impact millions of Americans.The controversy over the ethical and moral implications of embryonic stem cell research has been a hotly debated topic since the early 2000’s. While both sides of the debate proclaim to have an interest in protecting human life, they take very different viewpoints on how the scientific community  should go about it. While the moral debate of “when does life start?” will likely not end anytime soon, federal funding must continue to be given to stem cell research. Research that has already shown the potential to help individuals who suffer from diseases and injuries that have baffled doctors for decades. This possibility of finding treatments, or even cures, could have a major impact on the quality of life of millions of people around the world. In this research, no one is hurt, and substance that would otherwise be disposed of is utilized instead of being wasted. The potential scientific and medical advancements from stem cell research vastly outweighs the moral objections to utilizing human blastulae.


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