Why the push for embryo stem cells?

It’s hard to admit that I’m this jaded. 

But as I read about hockey legend Gordie Howe’s response to adult stem cell therapy following his stroke -- I couldn’t help but question the whole stem cell debate.

Last fall thousands of us in Michigan and millions of hockey fans worldwide were saddened to hear that Gordie had suffered a severe stroke.  But he was 86.  For the next few weeks the news was dire.  Then silence.  And now a Detroit Free Press front-page story that adult stem cell treatment appears to be successful, despite doubts from the medical and scientific communities.

 Look, he gets it — the skepticism over what seems to be his father's medical miracle, says Gordie Howe's youngest son.  But Dr. Murray Howe, head of radiology at ProMedica Toledo Hospital, also says he knows what he saw: The once-powerful Mr. Hockey — his father — struck mute and unable to walk by a stroke Oct. 26. Who by Dec. 1 "was nearly catatonic."

A family that had accepted his final days. They had made funeral plans.

 And a Tijuana medical clinic where, on Dec. 8, the elder Howe sat straight up in bed just hours after an injection of about 100 million stem cells and demanded with an astonishingly strong voice that he needed to use the restroom, Murray Howe said.

"He says, 'I'll walk,' and I said, 'You can't walk,' " Murray Howe recalled. "He says, 'The hell I can't.' And he sits up and puts his feet over the side of the bed and stood up.

"If I hadn't been there and seen that happen with my dad, I don't know if I'd believe it either."

Marty Howe, an older brother, said he was there when it happened again the next day: "When he's stood up, we were like, 'This is unbelievable.' "



Haven’t we been told by Liberaldom that it isn’t supposed to work that way?  Embryonic Stem cells are the future not the morally unobjectionable, adult variety.  And yet adult stem cell therapy has had some amazing successes.  Nonetheless, it’s hard to miss some bias in the Free Press reporting.

Maynard Howe — no relation to the hockey family but now the CEO of Stemedica — argues that research and legitimate clinical trials are conducted all over the world, in countries that have scientifically sound protocols like those in the U.S.

Maynard Howe said Stemedica must comply with rules set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration governing the production of stem cells and their shipment around the world.

"We're pretty arrogant in the U.S.," he said of the criticism of the Howe procedure. "There are a lot of scientists that think unless the trials were done here (and) unless the FDA gave its blessing, they can't be any good."

So to sum up.  From about everything I’ve ever seen in the media embryotic stem cells will be revolutionary.  Adult stem cells, a mere afterthought.  We just have to set aside our moral and ethical objections.  Such reasoning, after all, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition and therefore is antiquated. 

And then Gordie Howe sits up in his hospital bed.  Wow.  It’s shocking enough to make us wonder just how much of our science and  scientific debate is politicized.