Category Archives: Health Care

Ebola out of control: dogs eating Ebola corpses in Liberia

Ebola virus

Months ago in April 2014, when Ebola made the jump from the jungles of West Africa to its urban centers, the charity medical group Doctors Without Borders already declared the epidemic to be out of control. That declaration was later repeated by the UN’s World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

By now, after taking the lives of 1,552 people, this horrific epidemic that has no cure has gotten even worse. The latest report is that dogs in one community in Liberia are eating the corpses of Ebola victims buried in shallow graves. Being asymptomatic carriers of the virus, this means the dogs can further spread Ebola to humans via bites and scratches.

Note: Liberia was colonized and founded by U.S. freed slaves in 1847.

LIBERIA-HEALTH-EBOLA-WAFRICANurses wearing a protective suit escort a man infected with the Ebola virus to a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia.

E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor reports for Monrovia’s The New Dawn, Aug. 26, 2014, that residents of the Johnsonville Township outside Monrovia saw dogs eating the remains of dead Ebola victims who had been buried by the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare some weeks ago.

The burial was done in a hurry at night following a standoff in the day between residents and the Ministry of Health burial team. The former had refused to grant the authority a piece of land to carry out the burial. The dogs were seen pulling the bodies out of their shallow graves and hastily eating them.

A resident named Alfred Wiah told the NewDawn that upon discovery of the dogs’ behavior, residents immediately contacted the Health Ministry, but to no avail. The residents also attempted to kill all of the dogs, but some escaped.

According to CBS Atlanta/AP, Dr. Stephen Korsman of the University of Cape Town’s medical virology division tells News 24 that dogs can be infected with the Ebola virus but that “infections appear to be asymptomatic. This means that dogs won’t get sick, but they still could carry a potential risk [to humans] through licking or biting.”

The Atlanta-based CDC has sent nearly 70 scientists and staff to help in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Nigeria.

Ebola in West Africa

The Ebola epidemic is not just reeking havoc on the populations of West Africa but also on front line health workers and doctors fighting the disease. To date, more than 240 health care workers have developed the disease in West Africa, more than 120 of whom have died.

The CDC continues to insist the Ebola virus is transmitted only by close contact with bodily fluids such as blood, saliva and sweat — even something as innocent as a tainted tear. But that is exactly why the high incidence of health care workers stricken with Ebola is worrisome because, being knowledgeable about the virus, they would be extra careful by donning full-body protective suits like the ones in the pic above. The problem is the virus’s early symptoms of headache, fever, nausea and vomiting are hard to distinguish from those of malaria or typhoid, common ailments during West Africa’s rainy season.

Even more worrisome is a Canadian research in 2012 which strongly suggests Ebola may spread between animal species, through the air.

The Canadian researchers (from the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, the University of Manitoba, and the Public Health Agency of Canada) first inoculated a number of piglets with the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus, which is the deadliest strain with mortality rates up to 90%. The piglets were then placed in a room with four cynomolgus macaques, a species of monkey commonly used in laboratories. The piglets and monkeys were separated by wire cages to prevent direct contact between the species.

Within a few days, the inoculated piglets showed clinical signs of infection indicative of Ebola infection. (Happily, 9 days after infection, all piglets appeared to have recovered from the disease.) Within eight days of exposure, two of the four monkeys showed signs of Ebola infection although they had had no bodily contact with the piglets. Four days later, the remaining two monkeys were sick too.

While the study provided evidence that transmission of Ebola between species is possible, researchers still cannot say for certain how that transmission actually occurred. There are three likely candidates for the route of transmission:

  1. Airborne
  2. Droplet
  3. Fomites: Inanimate objects that can transmit disease if they are contaminated with infectious agents. In this study, a monkey’s cage could have been contaminated when workers were cleaning a nearby pig cage. If the monkey touched the contaminated cage surface and then its mouth or eyes, it could have been infected. -

 

Meanwhile, writing in Foreign Policy, Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Laurie Garrett warns Americans and the world that “you are not nearly scared enough about Ebola.” Garrett writes that “experimental drugs and airport screenings will do nothing to stop this plague” and that if Ebola hits Lagos, the capital of Nigeria — Africa’s most populous country — with a population of 22 million, “we’re in real trouble.”

In a Council on Foreign Relations conference call, Garrett said “We’re now in a perfect storm” and that the World Health Organization is “bankrupt” and drowning in debt. “There is no strategic plan for how this epidemic will be brought under control.”

WND reports that the same term, “perfect storm,” was also used to describe the Ebola outbreak by CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden in testimony before Congress on August 7, 2014.

Frieden testified that the CDC raised its emergency operations center to Level 1, the highest possible alert in an effort to better coordinate a CDC-organized surge of health professionals and equipment being rushed to West Africa in an effort to contain the Ebola outbreak.

Frieden also told Congress that it’s “inevitable” that someone with Ebola will get on a plane and fly to the United States, risking an outbreak here.

An outbreak on U.S. soil would require sweeping measures, including total quarantine of cities or sections of infected cities, as well as restrictions on air travel. On the official CDC website are “Specific Laws and Regulations Governing the Control of Communicable Diseases” specifying that, due to Ebola’s incubation period of as long as 21 days, seemingly healthy citizens who show no symptoms of Ebola can be forcibly quarantined at the behest of medical authorities. (See also “Obama signs Executive Order for detention of Americans showing signs of ‘respiratory illness’“)

Adding to our unease is the fact that U.S. researchers and the military have been studying the use of Ebola as a bio-weapon. Michael Snyder reports that:

  1. Researchers from Tulane University have been active for several years in the very same areas where this Ebola outbreak began. One of the stated purposes of their research was to study “the future use of fever-viruses as bioweapons”. According to Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Tulane University researchers have been asked “to stop Ebola testing during the current Ebola outbreak,” whatever that means.
  2. The Navy Times says that the U.S. military has been interested in studying Ebola “as a potential biological weapon” since the 1970s, mainly because Ebola has high mortality rates of 60-90%, and its stable nature in aerosol makes it attractive as a potential biological weapon.

Meanwhile, two dozen suspected Ebola cases have emerged hundreds of miles from West Africa in what health officials are calling a second “unrelated” outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Update (Aug. 29, 2014):

1. Yesterday, health authorities in Nigeria reported that Ebola had spread beyond Lagos to claim another death.

2. Yesterday, WHO said the Ebola epidemic was still accelerating and could afflict more than 20,000 people — almost seven times the current number of reported cases — before it could be brought under control. The latest figures are that the total cases had risen to 3,069, with 1,552 deaths, in four West African countries: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Indicative of the epidemic getting worse, more than 40% of the total number of cases have occurred within the past 21 days. WHO presented a plan to stop the transmission of Ebola within 9 months, which is estimated to cost nearly half a billion dollars over the next 6 months. Doctors Without Borders, however, cautions against taking a “false sense of hope” from WHO’s plan.

3. Also yesterday, an article published in the journal Science, says the Ebola virus has mutated repeatedly during the current outbreak, which could hinder diagnosis and treatment of the devastating hemorrhagic disease (in its end stage, those afflicted with Ebola bleed from every orifice of the body). Sadly, 5 of the paper’s more than 50 co-authors had died from Ebola before publication — yet more testimony to the terrible toll Ebola has wrought on the very health workers combating the epidemic. (H/t FOTM’s josephbc69)

Many years ago, when AIDS first broke out, I read a sobering account about how difficult it would be for medical science to come up with a cure or a vaccine for AIDS because it’s a virus and viruses CONSTANTLY mutate.  Just look at how successful we’ve been at developing a cure or vaccine for the common cold, which is also viral. The same applies to Ebola, which is also a virus.

UPDATE (Aug. 30):

As news comes that the Ebola epidemic has spread to a 5th African country, Senegal, it’s only getting worse in Liberia. Now Bloomberg reports that corpses of Ebola victims are just left on streets, unburied, for as long as 5 days because of “shortage of ambulances and fuel.”

I say “bull” to that. You don’t need ambulances or fuel to bury the dead. All it takes are hands and shovels. Nor is shortage of fuel an excuse not to cremate the dead. They do have cars and gasoline in Liberia, don’t they?

Bloomberg reader Dan Sanders wrote: “Leaving bodies lie has long been a Liberian tradition. During the 80’s when I lived in Monrovia bodies that had been hit by cars would lie where they were stricken for many days. The graft that goes on in the sub sahara along with the mentality of the natives makes for great chaos drama.”

~Eowyn

Universities nationwide limit student employment to comply with Obamacare

obamacare

Campus Reform: Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) is restricting student work because of compliance issues associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare.

In an email last week, MTSU President Sidney McPhee explained that “due to our interpretation of the reporting requirements of ACA,” graduate assistants, adjunct faculty members, and resident assistants are barred from working on-campus jobs that exceed 29 hours of work per week.

Now, they cannot take on multiple campus jobs.

“[E]ffective beginning with the fall semester, we will no longer allow part-time employees, or those receiving monthly stipends from the university, to accept multiple work assignments on campus,” the email stated. McPhee noted that violations of the law “could add up as high as $6 million” in penalties.

The Daily News Journal reports that graduate assistants are now restricted from picking up research work funded through grants to the university.

Michael Fletcher, a Ph. D. History student, told the Daily News Journal that his job as a graduate assistant, a position that pays only $14,000 annually, requires a 20-hour work week, but he is unable to attain on-campus grant-funded research positions like many assistants do.

“Last spring because of the ACA, the HR department issued a policy that the most we could work is 29 hours, which would be 9 hours above our assistantships. Now they’re saying we can’t do that anymore,” Fletcher told the Daily News Journal.

As Campus Reform previously reported, the University of Kansas has reduced the number of hours student employees can work from 30 hours per week to 20, a move to ensure compliance with the ACA.

“The revised [KU] policy seeks to balance the necessity for students to make academic progress while managing potential fiscal liabilities with ACA,” Diane Goddard, KU vice provost for administration and finance wrote in an email early this month.

Capping hours associated with on-campus employment is quickly becoming the norm. Since 2012, at least 111 colleges and universities have limited adjunct professor course loads, capped student employment hours, or reduced hours for part-time faculty according to a list compiled by Investor’s Business Daily.

hopeandchange4

DCG

“Being a liberal is the best thing on earth you can be”

Narcissist: Inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity. Synonyms: self-centeredness, smugness, ecocentrism.

Grandiose: Affectedly grand or important; pompous.

Hyperbole: A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect; an extravagant statement.

lauren bacall

After Lauren Bacall’s death, Daily Beast had an article describing her as “as a smart and sharp liberal and anti-communist” and “she was a worldview person”. They said she told Larry King in 2005 that she was “anti-Republican…A liberal. The L-word.”  Let’s examine some of that “total, total, total” best thing on earth shall we?

“You are welcoming to everyone when you’re a liberal (and anti-Republican)

tolerance2

palin2

  • Unless you are a woman who chooses to keep her baby with Potter’s Syndrome.
  • Unless you are a conservative woman (Playboy’s list of conservative women to hate f*ck).
  • Unless you are a conservative Asian woman.

Vile Palin t-shirt

palin3

  • Unless you are a conservative man.
  • Unless you are a former republican vice president.

cheney

  • Unless you are a republican governor who wants to protect his state’s borders.
  • Unless you are a rich republican who donates money for a new ambulatory care center.
  • Unless you are a conservative black man.
  • Unless you are a conservative black man on the SCOTUS.

thomas

  • Unless you are a black man who chaired the RNC.
  • Unless you are a conservative black man who runs for president.

cain

“Liberals gave more to the population of the United States than any other group”

  • Liberals haven’t done much for the population of Chicago.
  • Liberals haven’t done much for the population of Detroit.

detroit

hopeandchange3

california

  • Liberals haven’t done much for the population of Boston, who will be paying for the “Big Dig” through 2038 (at a cost overrun of 190%).
  • Liberals haven’t done much for the population of Multnomah County (OR) stuck in poverty (one in three Multnomah County residents earn less money than needed to meet their basic needs).
  • Liberals haven’t done much for the US student population when it comes to math, reading and science.
  • Liberals haven’t done much for the student population of Washington (Nearly every school in Washington is failing, at least according to the No Child Left Behind federal proficiency standards).
  • Liberals haven’t done much for the future US population (unless you think record debt is a good thing).
  • And lasty, liberals sure haven’t given us more of a population (Margaret Sanger would be proud).

proud liberal

DCG

How Christians can opt out of Obamacare

The short answer is:

Join a Healthcare Sharing Ministry!

Who's exempt

Philip Wegmann writes for The Daily Signal, Aug. 7, 2014, there’s a small-but-growing group of Americans who have chosen to opt out of the Affordable Care Act, better and more aptly called Obamacare. Not only do these organizations ignore the contraception mandate, they also bypass nearly all the hallmark provisions of Obamacare.

Dr. Andrea Miller, medical director and vice president of Christian Care Ministries, said “the biggest thing to understand” is these groups do not provide insurance. Instead, they “facilitate the direct sharing of medical cost between people of like beliefs.”

Because of this distinction, the Alliance for Health Care Sharing Ministries successfully lobbied Congress for a religious exemption in 2009, which allows medical sharing groups to provide a form of coverage but dodge the deluge of Obamacare regulations governing the insurance industry.

James Lansberry, the vice president of Samaritan Ministries that provides health coverage for more than 37,000 families nationwide, calls this exemption the last “isle of freedom” in health care and a “miracle straight from God’s own hand.”

Some 300,000 Americans now find coverage under this umbrella. But first they must promise to walk the straight and narrow, and sign a strict statement of conduct. These honor codes vary among ministries, but they generally echo a similar standard of Christian living: no drugs, no smokes, booze in moderation, and church on Sunday. Members then make monthly contributions that pay the group’s medical bills.

Three reasons motivate Christians to join these healthcare sharing ministries:

  1. Moral: to avoid funding controversial procedures and products such as abortion and emergency contraception.
  2. Charitable: to help a fellow believer.
  3. Fiscal: Joining makes sense financially.

By paying health care providers directly, members say they often can negotiate lower prices. Without co-pays or deductibles, some members save up to $1,000 dollars a month, according to Lansberry.

Joe Guarino of the Alliance of Health Sharing Ministries says health sharing ministries have helped reintroduce market forces to the industry. “We are a free-enterprise alternative, a consumer-driven alternative, and it works.”

Health sharing ministries aren’t without their drawbacks, however. The drawbacks include:

  • Members are legally responsible for their own medical bills, and there is no guarantee anyone will “receive a check from anyone else in the ministry.”
  • Health sharing ministries regularly exclude a host of pre-existing conditions as ministries work to meet needs and limit costs. Pre-existing conditions present “the most difficult challenge,” according to Lansberry, because his ministry seeks to provide the greatest amount of care but to “do so responsibly without putting the needs of members we already have at risk.”

But ministry leaders say they meet most member’s needs.

Eric Quiram, a self-employed Tennessee father of two, said his healthcare sharing ministry paid the entire cost—about $26,000—for his wife’s recent operation. Quiram didn’t pay a dime more than his monthly contribution to the ministry. He said, “This is where Medi-Share was amazing. It was all shareable, the whole amount.”

Quiram isn’t alone. Ministry leaders say enrollment is growing. Lansberry said his group experienced “dramatic growth” during its open-enrollment period earlier this year and is now preparing for the next round of cancellations under Obamacare.

Robert Moffit, senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation and one of the country’s foremost experts on health care policy, says these programs represent a positive reaction but not a final solution to the troubles that plague Obamacare. He applauds “any expansion of personal freedom in health care,” but says full repeal of the “unjust and unpopular health care law” must remain the goal because “The common good demands an expansion of personal freedom, not an accommodation with its suffocating restrictions.”

H/t California Political Review

~Eowyn

Why pro-lifers shouldn’t do the ice bucket challenge

I should have known that if Hollyweirdos climb over each other to do something, even when the supposed cause is good, it is for ill.

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the countless tiresome pics and videos of feel-good “celebrities” taking the Ice Bucket Challenge by dousing themselves with a bucket of cold water. Those challenged are supposed either to dump an ice bucket of cold water over their head, or donate to ALS research. The “celebrities” do both, while posting a video of their icy bath.

It’s all about publicity.

ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a.k.a. “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) is a fatal, progressive neurological disease.  It attacks the nerves that control voluntary muscles, so it is sometimes termed “motor neuron disease”.  As the nerves die, muscles weaken and atrophy, including the muscles for breathing; most people suffering from ALS die of respiratory failure.  The cause is unknown and at this point there is no cure, and very little that can even slow disease progression.

So, raising awareness about ALS and increasing support for ALS research is a good thing, right?

Sadly, not so.

Writing for LifeNews.com, Dr. David Prentice warns:

So far, most of the attention and millions of dollars in donation have gone to the ALS Association (ALSA).  However, the ALSA has admitted that it gives some of its money to embryonic stem cell research and has no qualms about doing so in the future…. 

As Rebecca Taylor has pointed out, ALSA also has given money to an affiliate, NEALS, that has given money to a trial that uses stem cells derived from the spinal cord of an aborted fetus

That trial is being run by the University of Michigan and Emory University, and sponsored by a company called Neuralstem which uses aborted fetus cells for research (“from the donated spinal cord tissue of an 8-week-old aborted fetus.”)  All of the Neuralstem trials use cells derived from abortion.

Project ALS, another charity for ALS research, also funds embryonic stem cell research.

APersonsAPerson

The plain truth is there is no reason for scientists or doctors to use EMBRYONIC stem cells, typically harvested from aborted babies, because study after study show that ADULT,  not embrysonic, stem cells are effective in treating diseases. As an example, please see my post on attorney Mattaniah Eytan, whose terminal leukemia was cured by receiving an ADULT stem cell transplantation at the International Center for Cell Therapy and Cancer Immunotherapy (CTCI) in Tel Aviv.

In fact, scientists have found that therapy using embryonic stem cells is prone to immune rejection and the growth of cancerous tumors, some containing hair, teeth, and other body parts. (Read more here.)

If you do want to donate to a good ALS cause, Dr. Prentice suggests the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center (MSCTC) at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He writes that MSCTC does not do any embryonic or aborted fetal stem cell research, only ADULT and NON-EMBRYONIC stem cell research and clinical trials. The center is planning a potential future trial using adult stem cells for ALS.

~Eowyn

Officer Darren Wilson Suffered “Orbital Blowout Fracture to Eye Socket”

Gateway Pundit has a new report., But before we get to that some words from our sponsor….er, me   :)

I wish they would just release whatever they have instead of this piecemeal crap.

I’d put another one in the “Dorian Johnson”  (Browns accomplice) A big fat stupid liars column.

Dorian Johnson should be arrested along with the atty who coached him in this vid. Watch as he says Brown shot in back. (Lie) Did not hit Wilson (Lie) And listen to the words he uses. The best is the big ole crocodile tears. NOT!

——————————————————————————————–

The Gateway Pundit can now confirm from two local St. Louis sources that police Officer Darren Wilson suffered facial fractures during his confrontation with deceased 18 year-old Michael Brown. Officer Wilson clearly feared for his life during the incident that led to the shooting death of Brown. This was after Michael Brown and his accomplice Dorian Johnson robbed a local Ferguson convenience store.

Local St. Louis sources said Wilson suffered an “orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket.” This comes from a source within the Prosecuting Attorney’s office and confirmed by the St. Louis County Police.

Umm, I think it's a generic type anybody scan

Umm, I think it’s a generic type anybody scan

A blowout fracture is a fracture of one or more of the bones surrounding the eye and is commonly referred to as an orbital floor fracture. (AAPOS)

This comes after St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter tweeted out last night that a dozen local witnesses confirmed Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s version of the Brown shooting story.

Rest of Gateway Pundit Here

~Steve

 

Scientists now admit many vaccines were made with cells from aborted babies

This is a follow-up on a post I did in 2011, “Aborted Human Fetal Cells in Your Food, Vaccines & Cosmetics.”

After decades of ignoring the issue, scientists finally are acknowledging that many vaccines were made with cells from aborted fetuses babies.

We must ask ourselves about the morality of vaccines — whether the end justifies the means.

When we treat human beings, albeit very small human beings, as things — as mere means to our ends — we’ll soon discover that all human life is cheapened and objectified, including our own.

8-week-aborted-fetus

The dark story of immortality

Michael Cook | MercatorNet | 22 August 2013

After decades of ignoring the issue, Nature, the world’s leading science journal, has finally acknowledged that creating life-saving vaccines from tissue from aborted foetuses is a deeply controversial ethical issue.

In 1964, an American researcher obtained cells from a Swedish foetus aborted because her mother already had enough children. He coaxed them into multiplying into a cell line which he called WI-38. Since they were normal and healthy, they were ideal for creating vaccines. Two years later, scientists in the UK obtained cells from a 14-week male fetus aborted for “psychiatric reasons” from a 27-year-old British woman. This cell line is called MRC-5.

It is undeniable that the vaccines made from WI-38 and MRC-5 cells have saved millions of lives. Scientists have made vaccines against rubella, rabies, adenovirus, polio, measles, chickenpox and shingles, as well as smallpox, chicken pox and hepatitis A.

But protests by opponents of abortion have been largely ignored by the scientific community. If you Google “vaccines” and “abortion”, only Catholic groups, right-to-life organisations and sites warning about the dangers of vaccinations mention the topic. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention barely alludes to it even though it has abundant information on vaccines. A website called Vaccine Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics fails to mention it.

The reason is clear: vaccines save lives and the abortions happened a long time ago. Get over it. Who cares? “At the time [the fetus] was obtained there was no issue in using discarded material. Retrospective ethics is easy but presumptuous,” says Stanley Plotkin, the American scientist who developed the rubella vaccine. “I am fond of saying that rubella vaccine has prevented thousands more abortions than have ever been prevented by Catholic religionists.”

But now even Nature – which supports abortion rights and reproductive technology – has expressed its misgivings. “More than 50 years after the WI-38 cell line was derived from a fetus, science and society [have] still to get to grips with the ethical issues of using human tissue in research,” its editorial declared in June.

What has changed?

If you could single out a reason, it would be the intensely moving 2010 best-seller, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. This book has nothing to do with abortion, but it highlights the deep respect, almost sacredness, that the body of a human person must command, even something as insignificant as discarded tissue.

Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman who was 31 when she died of cervical cancer in 1951. Cells from her tumour became the first human cells cultured continuously for use in research. HeLa cells have helped to make possible some of the most important medical advances of the past 60 years, including modern vaccines, cancer treatments, and IVF techniques. They are the most widely used human cell lines in existence. More than 300 scientific papers are published every month using HeLa cells.

There is no question about their usefulness – but were they obtained ethically? Is it ethical to continue using them?

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks raises disturbing questions which transcend “usefulness”. Henrietta Lacks was poor and black. Her children, it seems, are even poorer. A doctor at Johns Hopkins removed her cells without asking her. He cultivated the cells without informing her. He distributed the cells without asking permission of her family. Companies became rich by using her cells without paying royalties. Her family only learned that their mother’s cells had been scattered around the world in 1973. Their complaints were ignored for many years – after all, they were only poor, uneducated black folks.

No one cared about the woman called Henrietta Lacks who was overdosed with radium, who died leaving five children behind, one of them an epileptic housed in a filthy, chaotic institution called The Hospital for the Negro Insane. Some people even thought that HeLa cells originated with a woman named Helen Lane. Her daughter wrote in a diary, “When that day came, and my mother died, she was Robbed of her cells and John Hopkins Hospital learned of those cells and kept it to themselfs, and gave them to who they wanted and even changed the name to HeLa cell and kept it from us for 20+ years. They say Donated. No No No Robbed Self.”

It was only earlier this year that the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) negotiated an agreement with the family. All researchers who use or generate full genomic data from HeLa cells must now include in their publications an acknowledgement and expression of gratitude to the Lacks family.

Incredibly, despite all the publicity, scientists continued to ignore the concerns of the Lacks family. Just a few months ago, German researchers published the first sequence of the full HeLa genome. This compromised not only Henrietta Lacks’s genetic privacy but also her family’s. (The researchers have removed the sequence from public view.)

The story of HeLa cells, in short, is twofold: a story of towering scientific achievement and a story of exploitation by ambitious and callous scientists.

Less famous, but even more important, says Nature, have been WI-38 cells [from an aborted Swedish fetus baby]. HeLa cells multiply prolifically, but they are cancerous. WI-38 cells are healthy and normal and have been used to develop vaccines against rubella, rabies, adenovirus, polio, measles, chickenpox and shingles. Their origin is even more controversial than the dark story of Henrietta Lacks.

In 1962 a Swedish woman who was four months pregnant had a legal abortion because she did not want another child. The lungs of the foetus were removed and sent to Philadelphia. At the Wistar Institute for Anatomy and Biology they were minced up, processed and cultured by Leonard Hayflick. He had been culturing cells from aborted foetuses for years, even though abortion was technically illegal in Pennsylvania at the time, except for medical emergencies.

Leonard Hayflick examines WI-38 cells which were derived from an aborted Swedish girl.

After he successfully multiplied the WI-38 cells, Hayflick created more than 800 batches and distributed them freely around the world to drug companies and researchers. He eventually quarrelled with Wistar authorities because he thought that his contribution was being ignored. Without permission, he took all the remaining batches to California and his new job at Stanford. This led to years of bitter legal battles over who owned the cells. No one worried about where they had come from.

The abortion connection is beyond dispute, although, as Nature points out, “until now, that story has failed to reach the broad audience it deserves.” As in the Henrietta Lacks case, no informed consent was given by the Swedish mother. Her identity is known but she refuses to talk about the case. The doctors involved are all dead. A Swedish medical historian told Nature that in Sweden, “research material like tissues from aborted fetuses were available and used for research without consent or the knowledge of patients for a long time”, both before and after consent rules were tightened later in the 1960s.

The drug companies and institutions which have used WI-38 deny that there are serious ethical concerns either with the use of cells from aborted foetuses or with the lack of consent.

The institution which has examined this issue most closely is the Vatican. In 2005 it released a meticulously researched study of the ethical issues involved in using vaccines which had been developed with tissue from aborted foetuses. Even though it contended that parents could have their children vaccinated with a clear conscience, it did not dismiss the question as irrelevant or absurd. On the contrary, it concluded that “there is a grave responsibility to use alternative vaccines and to make a conscientious objection with regard to those which have moral problems.”

And it said that the existing situation was completely unjust. “Parents… are forced to choose to act against their conscience or otherwise, to put the health of their children and of the population as a whole at risk. This is an unjust alternative choice, which must be eliminated as soon as possible.”

What is the way forward?

I am writing from suburban Sydney which long ago lost its connection to the Aboriginal tribes who once lived here. Yet at every civic ceremony we acknowledge the memory of the Cammeraygal and Wallumedegal peoples. It is a form of reparation for the dispossession, disease and death which carried them away, leaving neither names nor descendants.

Doesn’t the story of Henrietta Lacks suggest that drug companies should do something similar with their vaccine products? From now on, the NIH says, scientists who use HeLa cells must include “an acknowledgment and expression of gratitude to the Lacks family for their contributions”.

Why shouldn’t drug companies and researchers who use the WI-38 (or the MRC-5 cells) do the same? “This vaccine was developed with the cells of a Swedish child who was aborted in 1964. We are grateful for her contribution and grieve at her absence.”

H/t California Catholic Daily

To find which vaccines are morally acceptable go to Children Of God For Life.

See also:

~Eowyn