Paraplegic Sees Little Hope in Research Cloning

Date: 05/14/2002

James Kelly suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident that left him paralyzed below the chest. The following are his words.  He will testify before Congress tomorrow (more details below).

For the past five years I’ve lived in a self-imposed cocoon that includes a computer, a phone, and the world of medical research. Because of what I’ve learned through reading medical journals and speaking to leading scientists, and because my life’s focus is to support the safe, efficient development of cures for many medical conditions (including my own), I recently left my cocoon and journeyed to Washington to support Senator Brownback’s proposed ban all forms of human cloning.

My reasons for supporting this ban are simple. Huge obstacles stand in the way of cloned embryonic stem cells leading to cures for any condition. To overcome these obstacles crucial funds, resources, and research careers will need to be diverted for many years to come. These obstacles include tumor formation, short and long-term genetic mutations, tissue rejection, prohibitive costs, and the need for eggs from literally tens of millions of women to treat a single major condition (such as stroke, heart disease, or diabetes).

However, every condition that cloned embryonic stem cells someday may address is already being addressed more safely, effectively, and cheaply by adult stem cells and other avenues.

And since money spent on impressive-sounding, but problematic research such as cloning cannot also be spent on research that really offers cures, I’m in favor of banning cloning.

James Kelly will testify at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday. Also testifying: Dr. Panos Zavos, who is working to create human clones and has previously announced his intention to implant his first clone embryos this year. Hearing details: “Medical Science and Bioethics: Attack of the Clones?” 2154 Rayburn House Office Building; Wednesday, May 15, 2002 at 1:00 p.m.