Saturday, January 14, 2006

One "Big Lie", One Little Victim

In the aftermath of the stem cell fiasco in South Korea, the real losers are not the stem cell and cloning researchers or the broader scientific community. The real victims are the countless patients worldwide who found, in the form of Woo Suk Hwang, a new reason to hope, only to see that hope dashed in a few whirlwind days.

Case A1 is the South Korean child known as “Donor 2.” Donor 2’s real name is Kim Hyeoni, a nine-year-old who was hit by a car while crossing the street last year. The story in the L.A. Times details the sacrifices that Hyeoni’s family made on his behalf, as well as the hopes that blossomed with Hwang’s seemingly meteoric scientific progress and were shot dead with the revelation that it was “all a big lie.”
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Though it may take some time, the scientific community is robust enough to bounce back from this particular scandal. It is for patients like Hyeoni, and countless more like him who will go unnamed in the newspapers, that we should feel compassion and, more importantly, a sense of responsibility to respond to the lies and failures of Hwang with a redoubled effort to make real progress in developing viable stem cell based treatments.

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