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Archive for November, 2008

Before we begin today’s article, a special reminder:

 

Thursday, November 20th, Sacramento.

The Capitol building, fourth floor.

Room 4203. Nine o’clock in the morning.

 

Just a few days from now, there will be a meeting about the California stem cell research program, and if it should be changed.

 

It is the Little Hoover Committee meeting, and they will be studying the structure of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC), board of the California stem cell program, the single largest stem cell research funding program in the world.

 

Right now, I feel the California program is our program, because it is run by patient advocates like you and me, plus educators, scientists, doctors, biomed leaders and other experts: these are the leadership people (Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, or ICOC) everyone deeply involved in the struggle, and committed to that fight.

 

To replace or weaken that board of experts—substituting some as-yet-undisclosed mix of politicians and critics—would be a disaster.

 

If you can, attend that meeting. Take a day off from work, and come. (for the full agenda and information, go to: http://www.lhc.ca.gov/lhcdir/cirm.html

 

If you want a reminder why it matters, read the following:

 

 

DEATH SENTENCE BY DISEASE—and How We Must Fight Back

 

by Don C. Reed

 

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a progressive, usually fatal…disease caused by the degeneration of motor neurons, the nerve cells… that control voluntary muscle movement. … The disorder causes muscle weakness and atrophy throughout the body as the…neurons degenerate, ceasing to send messages to muscles. Unable to function, the muscles gradually weaken, develop fasciculations (twitches) because of denervation, and eventually atrophy…. The patient may ultimately lose the ability to initiate and control all voluntary movement except for the eyes.”  

 

–Wikipedia.

 

 

Last Thursday Gloria and I attended a meeting about one of the deadliest medical conditions on earth: ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease.

 

Held in the beautiful Intercontinental Hotel of San Francisco, the evening was a lecture/fundraiser on behalf of the Greater Bay Area ALS Association.

 

We were guests of Diane Winokur, a champion of research advocacy.

 

I spotted her immediately: small, elegant, full of energy, an exclamation point of a person.

 

“Ahh, Don Reed, the advocate I got arrested!” she said, by way of introduction.

 

She was referring to a trip we had taken together, to testify at a hearing about Senate Bill 1565. I was going to give her a lift to Sacramento, and found her hotel without difficulty. But San Francisco is a maze of one-way streets, and as we drove off, there was a small legal question about how to negotiate a narrow unmarked opening onto the road.

 

“Oh, you can turn here, no problem,” Diane had said.

 

I made the turn. Instantly a siren started up behind us, wailing that particular, “yes, that means you, pull over,” kind of noise.  Apparently, the San Francisco police did not share her views on traffic directions. I was not actually arrested, but it was a near thing.

 

We smiled, remembering, and then she went back to her duties, making people glad they had come tonight—to help in the fight.

 

Diane’s youngest son, Douglas, died of ALS in 1997. Her oldest son, Hugh, was diagnosed with it in 2005.

 

Each year, five thousand Americans are diagnosed with ALS. For most, it is a death sentence. Ninety per cent die within five years.

 

My friends John and Genevieve Ames were there. John is involved in a major program to educate pharmacists about the life sciences; Jenny is a scientist herself, if I understand correctly, in the field of medical anthropology.

 

And I had not seen them since their son David passed away with ALS.

 

Exemplary parents, they had fought for David’s life with everything they had, even taking him to South America, trying anything that had a chance of helping.

 

But at the last, he said goodbye.

 

What can you say?

 

 I went up and hugged John, like I would any friend who has stood beside you in battle—John was out there on the streets with us, collecting signatures for Proposition 71—I felt so helpless.

 

But there they were, still in the fight, carrying on, honoring the memory of their son.

 

The person we were there to hear was Dr. Lucie Bruijn, Senior Vice President for Research and Development for the ALS Association.

 

“The last few months have been an exciting time for ALS research,” she said.

“Researchers are generating new model systems for ALS… the first stem cells were generated from ALS patients, new clinical trials are underway.

 

“With all this excitement, the question remains: why are there still no meaningful therapies for ALS?

 

“ALS is a complex disorder. No two patients manifest the disease in exactly the same way… There are likely to be many different causes for the disease …an individual’s  (genetic) predisposition in combination with environmental exposures…”

 

That made sense. Cancer is caused by both a person’s genes and the environment. Some people can smoke cigarettes all their lives, no problem. Others get the cancer; their genes are different—a mix of environmental causes and genetic makeup. 

 

When she described an enemy which seemed to be ever-changing, I thought about AIDS.

 

When she spoke about rescuing damaged nerves from paralysis, of course I thought about my son, Roman, who has a spinal cord injury.

 

She spoke about how Big Pharma needs to be educated about the connections between diseases. The giant drug companies are not likely to spend several hundred million dollars developing a drug which will only be bought by a few customers.

 

But neurological conditions (if taken together) affect millions. That vast pool of affected families makes it economically viable for the big drug companies to invest their money in cure. (Flash! Did you hear that Pfizer will be devoting $100 million to stem cell research over the next several years? That’s important!)

 

She credited the work of Dr. Clive Svendsen, and pointed out an excellent article, “Stem Cells and ALS: Where are we now?” which he had written for the ALS Association.

 

That article spoke of working with adult stem cells from bone marrow, embryonic stem cells for making motor neurons, and potentially, the induced pluripotent stem cells as well: a full stem cell approach.

 

“Stem cells may be able to help in the battle against ALS…: from cell therapy to disease modeling, drug delivery and drug screening…”—Clive Svendsen, Ph.D. 

 

But as always the biggest impact was personal.

 

For as she talked, there were two people sitting in front of us. They had driven up from Fresno to attend this meeting.

 

They were a genuinely handsome couple: the husband was a big solid football player kind of guy, someone you would want beside you in a fight.

 

His wife had beautiful blue eyes: remember Jean Simmons in the movie Spartacus? Eyes like that, stunning.

 

But in those eyes was fear.

 

Just six months ago, she had been diagnosed with ALS. Already, the disease had progressed, so she now needed a three-pronged metal cane for balance when she walked.

 

We talked, and they answered my questions politely. 

 

I said the best words I could think of:

 

Please know you are not alone. We are in this together. My son has paralysis, my sister has cancer—a hundred million Americans have an incurable disease or disability—and if our families stick together, there is no stopping us.  

 

I told about Roman and Christopher Reeve and the paralyzed rat that walked again, and that we would prevail—all the things you know I would say– but even as the words came out, they seemed hollow, no comfort.

 

Because when I walked away, she would still have ALS.

 

Her husband’s attitude was fiercely protective, he would go through fire for her.

 

But this is a fight only the scientists can win.

 

“…scientists are committed to finding the answers, and new insights are continually unfolding. There is increased interest from the industry sector, critical for the development of therapies. There is also increased awareness of the disease through media opportunities, advocacy efforts and the dedicated ALS community. For all these reasons and the increasing number of collaborative efforts, I am confident that we are going to move forward in ALS research to find the meaningful therapies so desperately needed in this disease.—said Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D

 

Overall impression: through every word she spoke, came an attitude of determination. Physically skinny, built like a long distance runner, she made me feel she was in the fight for the long haul: that she would never allow discouragement to stop her; that she would just keep on, no matter what—a definite heavyweight in the field.

 

We clapped enthusiastically, and then came the question and comment period.  I had one of each, and as usual, I was first in line for the mike, in case there was limited time.

 

My question was: what did the speaker think about the importance of President-Elect Obama’s pledge to double the NIH funding, which (under the current administration) has been flat-lined for the past five years. Naturally, Dr. Bruijn supported the increase, and gave expert advice on ways the money could be spent most effectively.

 

My comment was a reminder.

 

Thursday, November 20th, Sacramento.

The Capitol building, fourth floor.

Room 4203. Nine o’clock in the morning.

 

Just a few days from now, there will be a meeting about the California stem cell research program, and if it should be changed.

 

It is the Little Hoover Committee meeting, and they will be studying the structure of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC), board of the California stem cell program, the single largest stem cell research funding program in the world.

 

Right now, I feel the California program is our program, because it is run by patient advocates like you and me, plus educators, scientists, doctors, biomed leaders and other experts: these are the leadership people (Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, or ICOC) everyone deeply involved in the struggle, and committed to that fight.

 

To replace or weaken that board of experts—substituting some as-yet-undisclosed mix of politicians and critics—would be a disaster.

 

If you can, attend that meeting. Take a day off from work, and come.

 

You don’t have to make a speech; but you can if you want, public comment is allowed.

 

If you do want to talk, nothing fancy is required. You might want to say something like: The California stem cell program is magnificent; and it is the will of the people of our state. We voted for it, exactly as it is. Don’t mess with a good thing.

 

 

P.S. In small ways as well as large, we must support each other. For example, I don’t have the kind of wallet that can support a serious donation.  But after that meeting, I just  had to do something, so I found the website, www.alsabayarea.org, and clicked the donate button, gave $25. This is nothing to brag about– but if three thousand people reading this column chipped in $25 apiece, that is $75,000, which might fund a researcher for a year. Who knows what that one researcher could find?

 

He or she might provide the missing piece of the puzzle, and save the life of somebody’s loved one—and help to end to one of the cruellest diseases on earth.

 

 

 

 

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SACRAMENTO CAPITOL BUILDING, ROOM 4203,  NOVEMBER 20TH, 9:00 am

 

 

Support stem cell research?

 

Join us, Thursday the 20th, for the first meeting of the Little Hoover Commission—which may “improve” California’s stem cell program, formerly Proposition 71– in ways we do not like!

 

Remember Senate Bill 1565, which thankfully was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger? One of its goals (which sounds good, at first) was to have an efficiency organization, the Little Hoover Commission, study the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC), the governing board of our stem cell program, and recommend changes. 

 

Personally, I am a little worried about making changes in something good. That is like going into the hospital for open heart surgery—when there is nothing wrong with you. 

 

SB 1565 is gone, vetoed by the Governor, but the Little Hoover Commission (LHC) is going ahead anyway. They are going to study the ICOC, and see if they can come up with ways to eliminate “conflicts of interest, real or perceived”, as Senator Sheila Kuehl, sponsor of SB 1565, said at one of her hearings on the bill. (emphasis added) The LHC will suggest ways to “improve” it, and design a law to enforce their decisions.   

 

Conflicts of interest, of course, everyone is against. That means using your decision-making power on the board to advance yourself or your organization.

 

 The ICOC has careful laws to prevent that.

 

But “perceived” means a matter of opinion. If we try to eliminate every “conflict of interest, real or perceived”, the cure may be worse than the imagined disease.

 

Here is how it works.

 

The California stem cell program is run by a 29-member Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC). Members of that board were chosen by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Senate President Pro Tem, and other elected officials. 

 

Each board member is an expert in his or her field: deans of colleges, a Nobel Prize Laureate, patient advocate champions, heads of biomedical companies, and more.   

Because they arrive on the job fully-informed, with a depth of knowledge, they can make decisions based on many years of experience.

 

But, and this is precisely because they are experts, it is easy to say, hey, there is a conflict of interest, or at least the appearance of one, in every decision they make.

 

Suppose there is a vote needed on giving money to a stem cell project to cure paralysis at college X. The dean of college X cannot vote on that project. Only college deans Y and Z can vote on that. But what if Y and Z also have projects about paralysis at their own campuses, the knowledge discovered at College X could help them.

 

In some people’s eyes, that could be perceived as a conflict of interest.

 

But if we disqualified every board member who might indirectly benefit from the California stem cell program, we would have nobody left.

 

Stem cell research potentially benefits everybody on earth. People who pay medical would be glad if cure research reduced their expenses.

 

What would it take to remove even the perception of conflict of interest?

 

We could try getting rid of the patient advocates—people like Joan Samuelson, founder of the Parkinson’s Action Network– and replacing them with ideologues, people who may know nothing about stem cell research, or who might even oppose it. This was the Bush Administration’s approach: because his Bioethics Commission was stacked with critics, it was an obstruction to stem cell research, instead of a help.

 

Or, the Commission could be run directly by politicians.

 

Would it be wise to give politicians control of our stem cell research money– with the current financial crisis in Sacramento? Might they not be tempted to divert our funding to other useful purposes?

 

I have seen this happen. At least two state research programs were gutted of their funds. New York and Maryland had spinal cord injury research programs, one for eight million annually, the other for a million a year. Both programs had their research money sidetracked to the general fund. Today, both programs are back in action, but for years, their money was denied them, and to the best of my knowledge, it was never paid back. It was spent elsewhere, instead of on research trying to find cures for paralyzed people, like my son. That may have delayed the day when Roman “stands up from (his) wheelchair, and walks away from it forever,” in the words of the late Christopher Reeve.

 

Under the present leadership structure the money is going exactly where it was intended and legally required to go: to advance stem cell research.

 

The California stem cell program is something shining, to be treasured and protected.

 

As a member of the public, I am participate in this amazingly transparent and open program.  I try to attend all the meetings of the ICOC and its committees and subcommittees, and have made about 100 so far.

 

I’ve seen the ICOC in action, many times: they do an outstanding job. They are not a conflict of interest, but a conference of experts.

Example: the budget for facilities (labs and building construction) was $272 million. But the board figured how to increasing that money: by requiring matching funds. Any organization that wanted a grant had to come up with extra dollars on its own, and bring that to the table. This instance of expertise got California an extra $800 million, turning $272 million into $1.15 billion dollars in buying power.

 

 How many government programs bring in extra money like that?

 

The Little Hoover Commission has a very solid, even noble reason to exist: to make sure California gets the best possible use of every taxpayer nickel.

 

Hopefully the LHC will approach its task with an open mind. If so, they may find they agree with the other four investigations and audits of our program, all of which found the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to be an efficient and well-run institution, doing exactly what the people of California elected it to do. 

 

But if you look at the agenda of the November 20th meeting*, you will see that the only two speakers representing the “Consumer Perspective” are John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog, and Jesse Reynolds of the Center for Genetics and Society.

 

Jesse Reynolds and John Simpson are probably the two harshest critics of our stem cell program, speaking against it again and again. If there is anything negative to be said about our program, one or both of them will almost certainly be quoted.

 

It is their right to speak, and to be heard; their voices are part of the democratic process.

 

But I object to the choice of two critics as representing the entire consumer population of California. It is my understanding both men are paid lobbyists. (There is nothing wrong with that; they could make a similar comment about me.  I work for a group called Americans for Cures Foundation, which supports stem cell research, and receive a small stipend from that organization.) But to choose such vocal critics without a balance is to ignore the 59.2% of California which voted in favor of Proposition 71.

 

Unfortunately, not one patient advocate is scheduled to be heard.

 

I called up and asked to speak, and was told that there would be room for public comment at the end of the program. I also requested to speak at the next meeting, (there will be at least two) and have not heard back if this will be permitted.

 

Folks, we have worked hard to make Proposition 71 into what it is today, the world’s best source of funding for stem cell research.

 

If changes are going to be suggested to our program, you and I should be part of the process. We need to be there at the meetings. If there are citizen committees, we should volunteer to be on them. If allowed to speak, (and I am told there will be time for public comment at the end of the hearing) we should do so.

 

At very least, we should be in the room.

 

Will you join us on November 20th, 9:00, Room 4203, State Capitol, Sacramento?

 

It could be more important than any of us know.

 

 

*http://www.lhc.ca.gov/lhcdir/cirm.html

 

 

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THREE VICTORIES– AND A NEW AGE?

THREE VICTORIES– AND A NEW AGE?

 

 

Three great victories have been won: now we must utilize the opportunity they bring.

 

1. First, the Presidency and the elective offices.

 

In Barrack Obama, we have a man who has the potential to be as great as Lincoln.  He can think, he is not afraid, and he is on our side. Our prayers go with him.

 

Also, the shifting of Congress and the Senate was overwhelmingly in our favor. The defeat of Senators like Elizabeth Dole and John Sununu meant fewer anti-researchers to have to cope with. On the positive side, strong supporters like Kay Hagan, Jeanne Shaheen and Vickie Englund give us much to smile about.

 

2. Second, embryonic stem cell research is no longer controversial:  that has been forever settled by Michigan’s Proposal 2, which (in an extraordinarily conservative state) took on the issue: to allow the use of blastocysts left over from In Vitro Fertility procedures.

 

The opposition knew this was a crucial test of strength. The Religious Right  brought in their big guns, and made Michigan a social battleground state. They funded a massive propaganda attack, expensive TV ads in a Falsehood-a-Week ad campaign, with massive financial backing from the Catholic Church and ideological groups.

 

Michiganians took the heat for everyone. Almost alone, that small state fought. We outsiders should have done a lot more. Some did help: Bob Klein came out to fight for the finances to make the campaign possible. The Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research endorsed the effort. Individuals (especially, one great man, A. Albert Taubman, a champion of research, made the campaign possible with his generosity–) but by and large, the campaign was on its own.

 

After a somewhat muddled and confused beginning, Michiganians came together in a white heat of unity.

 

When the votes were counted, Proposal 2 had prevailed.

 

They won, for all of us. 

 

3. The third victory was the overwhelming defeat of the “personhood” effort, Amendment 48 of Colorado,   the attempt to give a sperm-and-egg microscopic blastocyst citizenship rights. Fortunately, this was recognized as the nonsense it was—dangerous nonsense—and it was crushed, losing nearly three to one.

 

The leaders in that victory were the Women’s rights groups: NOW, NARAL, Planned Parenthood :  who saw it (quite rightly) as a threat to a woman’s right to choose. For us in the regenerative medicine movement, the “personhood” movement could well have ended embryonic stem cell research.

 

Three victories: the national implications are huge. Regenerative research is no longer controversial; and we have men and women in the White House, Congress and Senate who support our efforts.

 

Now is the time to ask for a lot.

 

When President Bush was in office, the best we could hope for was the very cautious Castle/DeGette bill: the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act: a little permissions bill.  Even that was vetoed by President Bush.

 

That was then, this is now.

 

Today, our cause has been proven right.

 

We must no longer plead timidly for permission to do the research. That can be accomplished by the stroke of a Presidential pen. On his first day in office, President Obama can reverse the Bush restrictions, which means we do not need Castle/DeGette.

 

If Castle/DeGette goes forward at all, it should be substantively rewritten.

 

We may only have one major “ask”—we must think carefully on what to ask for.

 

What we need now is money to do research, all across the nation.

 

We must think in terms of doubling or tripling the budget of the National Institutes for Health (NIH), because we are up against the most gigantic health problems (literally) in the history of the world. An extra billion or two (not even enough to make up for inflation losses after 5 years of flat funding)—that is nothing compared to the need.

 

Just as we would unify against an invasion of our country—imagine how we would react to a “body count” of one hundred million killed or wounded—even so we must come together to fund regenerative medicine.

 

We must think of the NIH like the Defense Department: one fights with guns against invaders, the other uses test tubes—but both are fighting to save lives.

 

We must no longer be splinter groups, weak and divided, but come together instead as what we are: a nation and a world working together against the common threat of chronic disease and disability.

 

If we can see beyond ourselves, and act on our better convictions, a new Age begins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TOMORROW, WE WIN

TOMORROW, WE WIN

  

 

I just got through contacting about 20,000 Michigan weblogs.

 

No, I am not joking—I found some easy-to-use software that locates webblogs, several hundred at a time. So, I figured, if I could send little short messages to tons of blogs, maybe I could get a few of them to share a last-minute email with their friends, and send them to the polls ready to vote yes on Michigan’s stem cell bill.

 

Last minute get out the vote effort, electronically-speaking.

 

So most of last night I spent sending thousands of  little messages to groups of all kinds, in 150 words or less explaining that —“Michigan electricians/zookeepers/musicians should support Proposal 2 because”– because…

 

Well, if you read this column regularly, you already know the “because”. And if not, well, I am too tired to explain. Click on www.curemichigan.com for complete answers.

 

But right now, I want to go on record, and make a prediction.

 

Folks, I have been in the advocacy business for fourteen years, and never have I felt so—so— so trembling on the cusp of great change.

 

Michigan, and Obama. Two miracles are going to happen tomorrow.

 

I know, I know, take nothing for granted, keep working till the last, and I will.

 

But the dedicated labor of hundreds and thousands of good people cannot be denied.

 

A country is rising to our feet, saying a clear and unequivocal YES to the future.

 

Removing Michigan’s crippling stem cell research restrictions was a major goal.

 

For me as an outsider, it was a joy being a small part of the struggle to pass Proposal 2, and allow scientists in that great state to work without one hand tied behind their backs. But for thousands of dedicated Michiganians who worked long months and years toward that goal, it was the fight of their lives. They did everything right, and I hope they have energy left to feel the pride they should.  They are exhausted now, but tomorrow, they will just enough strength to vote, to sit down in front of the TV, and maybe holler a little bit, when the good news comes in.

 

Tomorrow is election day. Harass your loved ones, chase them to the polls!

 

And if you come to Northern California, in one of the polling booths in Alameda County, I will be there too.

 

Behind one of those voting tables, I will be the person who finds your address on the list, and nods cheerfully. Or maybe I will hand you a pen or a ballot, if the supervisor thinks I am up to that more advanced involvement.

 

Day before yesterday, Gloria and I voted. We went to the county headquarters, Oakland, California, because we knew we would be too busy at the polling booth on voting day.

 

As we stood in line, it was beautiful. All Oakland seemed bright and cheerful, linked with joy, as though every passerby knew something wonderful was just about to happen. Strangers smiled at each other, and no one was grouchy for standing in a line.

 

Tomorrow, we will win.

 

Michigan is going to win, stem cell supporters across the nation are going to win, progressives are going to win, and our beloved country is going to win.

 

So.  What are you going to do, after the election?

 

That is when the real labor begins.

 

We did not do all this other work just to get some nice people elected. 

 

It is what they do while in office that counts, and we must help them.

 

They will not automatically know.

 

Example: I went to a fundraiser for a famous Senator, someone whose name you would recognize, a hero to progressives of both everywhere.

 

And he said that he was going to make sure the National Institutes of Health got—pause for dramatic impact—“another billion dollars.”

 

I clapped politely—one can’t be rude at a fundraiser—but I thought, a billion? That’s all?    

 

The NIH has been stuck at $28 billion for 5 years—just catching up to inflation would mean another five billion or so.

 

America faces a two-trillion dollar mountain of medical costs— and three-fourths of that debt is from chronic disease and disability. Chronic means it will never get cured, ever. 

 

We should be getting what the Defense Department gets.

 

No, I am not joking. Take a look at the economy. Take a look at the millions of suffering people, who need help and protection just as if enemy soldiers were invading our shores.

 

 

There are chores we must do that are so important: literally, life and death important.

 

If America is ever going to take care of the health of all our people, cure must be at least as important as care. We must solve the problem, not just endlessly endure it.

 

By the way, if you live in California, keep the 20th of November open for the first meeting of the Little Hoover Commission in Sacramento, which will be studying the California stem cell program, to see if they can “improve” it—grumble, grumble.

 

But that’s for tomorrow.

 

Today is harass your neighbor day, remind them what tomorrow is—tell them do not fall for any ANTI-VOTING TRICKS—like the lie that if somebody owes traffic tickets and shows up to vote, they will be arrested, or the one that says only Republicans only get to vote tomorrow—nope. It won’t work. No tricks, no excuses, vote tomorrow. 

 

There is only reason you should not vote tomorrow, and that is if you already voted.

 

And when tomorrow comes, and you have stood in line and gone behind the curtains and done your duty, and it’s afterward, and you step out in the sunshine and take a breath—

 

Be proud you live in a country like ours, on this beautiful blue planet called Earth.

 

 

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ELIZABETH DOLE SLANDERS STEM CELL SUPPORTER:  Calls Sunday School Teacher “Godless”.

 

 

Should a craven lie deny America a strong stem cell research-supporting Senator?

 

A scurrilous attack ad was just run by incumbent Republican Elizabeth Dole against stem cell research supporter and Senatorial candidate Kay Hagan of North Carolina.

 

In an expensive and widely-distributed television ad, Dole attacked Hagan’s religious faith, calling her “Godless”.

 

Believe it or not, the ad shows Kay Hagan’s face with her lips moving—and somebody else’s voice saying: “There is no God”.

 

Ms. Hagan, by the way, is an elder in her Presbyterian Church for more than ten years. She has worked as a Sunday School teacher for that church, and assists on its missions.

 

The shame is on Senator Dole, who personally approved the ad, for stooping to such depths to clutch on to her power.

 

What a tragedy it would be if such slimy trash were allowed to deny North Carolina a stem cell supporting Senator.

 

Unfortunately, propaganda sometimes works. North Carolina is a deeply Christian state, and if that lie is believed, even for just a few days…

 

As Ms. Hagan’s campaign said: “Elizabeth Dole would love nothing more than to distract from the issues and her record for the last five days of the campaign….”

 

And speaking of Elizabeth Dole’s record, where does she stand on stem cell research?

 

She takes her cue from George Bush’s endless restrictions—no new stem cell lines, ever.

 

America has repudiated such short-sighted obstacles to progress. Legislation to moderate those restrictions has twice passed the House of Representatives and the United States Senate, only to be vetoed each time by President Bush, with the help of Senator Dole.

 

With an estimated 100 million citizens suffering from incurable disease and disability, and health care costs skyrocketing beyond our ability to pay, families are united in their determination to have access to the best medical treatment modern science can provide.

 

How do North Carolinians feel about the research that matters so much to so many?

 

They support embryonic stem cell research by a huge majority, more than 5-3 in favor*. 

 

Why does this matter to me?

 

My son Roman Reed is paralyzed. His neck was broken playing college football. But we have not given up on hope.

 

Our son inspired California’s first embryonic stem cell research funding, through a law named after him, the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act.

 

On March 1, 2002, in the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at UC Irvine, I held in my hand a laboratory rat which had been paralyzed, but which now walked again, thanks to embryonic stem cells- and this while my paralyzed son watched from his wheelchair.

 

That research experiment is now before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) being considered for human trials. If all goes well, in about three months, newly-paralyzed people may have the chance my son did not—the opportunity to walk out of the hospital, instead of being condemned to a wheelchair for life.

 

But new stem cell research lines would not be allowed under the Bush-Dole restrictions.

 

Both Presidential candidates know this, and have pledged to overturn those restrictions: despite their differences, John McCain and Barrack Obama understand the need for new embryonic stem cell research lines.

 

But not Elizabeth Dole.

 

She is out of touch with North Carolina’s hopes and dreams for cure, not only for paralysis, but for many diseases and disabilities considered incurable, but which stem cell therapies may alleviate or cure.

 

Now, behind in the polls, Ms. Dole has even lost track of the North Carolina State Motto, Esse Quam Videri: “to be, rather than to seem.”

 

In North Carolina, honesty matters.

 

I am myself an outsider to this state, so maybe my opinions do not matter. But I appreciate Ms. Hagan’s courageous support for the research which may allow my son to fulfill the great prediction of Christopher Reeve, who said, in a private letter to our family:

 

“One day, Roman and I will stand up from our wheel chairs, and walk away from them forever.”—Christopher Reeve.

 

Cure did not come in time for our champion, but the flame of his faith still lights our way. The research he supported will go forward—with people like Kay Hagan in office.

 

I urge every stem cell research supporter in America to do what I just did: go to www.Kayhagan.com, and contribute $25. If you can afford more, do so.

 

Help her withstand these disgusting attack ads. Do it not just because Kay Hagan is a fighter for stem cell research. But because North Carolina—and America–  need deserve women like her in leadership.

 

People who will tell the truth.

 

Thank you.

 

 

Don C. Reed is the citizen-sponsor of California’s Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act, named after his paralyzed son.

 

*When asked for their overall opinion on medical research involving stem cells from human embryos…a majority, 53.4%, said they either support or “strongly support” it; 30.8% said they oppose…”—The News Observer, newsobserver.com, October 7, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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