Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Stem Cell Arms (and Legs) Race

From the BBC:

Ukraine babies in stem cell probe
By Matthew Hill BBC Health Correspondent

Healthy new-born babies may have been killed in Ukraine to feed a flourishing international trade in stem cells, evidence obtained by the BBC suggests. Disturbing video footage of post-mortem examinations on dismembered tiny bodies raises serious questions about what happened to them.

Ukraine has become the self-styled stem cell capital of the world.

There is a trade in stem cells from aborted foetuses, amid unproven claims they can help fight many diseases. But now there are claims that stem cells are also being harvested from live babies.

Wall of silence

The BBC has spoken to mothers from the city of Kharkiv who say they gave birth to healthy babies, only to have them taken by maternity staff. In 2003, the authorities agreed to exhume around 30 bodies of foetuses and full-term babies from a cemetery used by maternity hospital number six.

One campaigner was allowed into the autopsy to gather video evidence. She has given that footage to the BBC and Council of Europe.

In its report, the Council describes a general culture of trafficking of children snatched at birth, and a wall of silence from hospital staff upwards over their fate. The pictures show organs, including brains, have been stripped - and some bodies dismembered.

A senior British forensic pathologist says he is very concerned to see bodies in pieces - as that is not standard post-mortem practice.

It could possibly be a result of harvesting stem cells from bone marrow.


It is clear that the UW-Madison needs to pick it up if it wants to reclaim its title of "Stem Cell Capital of the World." Obviously, the Ukraine is far more progressive than Wisconsin in extracting stem cells - where are our mass graves of baby body parts, UW? Shouldn't we be doing everything we can to help grandma with her Parkinson's? Think of all the high paying jobs it would create - aren't we passing on big-time economic development potential?

We need to be aggressive in targeting pregnant mothers for their little life-saving packages. When they go into labor, I propose we make them sign a confusing document that gives them the right to not donate their child to the UW. If that doesn't work, we can try special promotions - "Get a $50 gift card to Ann Taylor with the donation of any canned good or live baby."