i shouldn’t have traded those stem cells for pizza rolls

I have this rule about not getting too controversial on this site. Not that I don’t like a good argument, but I have a husband that will drag me kicking and screaming from my computer.

Which is so much easier since I’m on wheels now.


A patient at my hospital (Shepherd Center) was the first human to receive human embryonic stem cells.

Now, if I understand this correctly, (and I’m not swearing I do, they have guys in white coats for that) a guy who had MAJOR spinal injury from the neck down received the stem cells from a rejected embryo from a fertility clinic.  These cells can actually cause this patient to regrow things that have nothing.

A year ago my mind would have said,” A baby! That could have been someone’s baby.  We have to be careful and think about fertilizing eggs just to make stem cells.”

Now, though.

I’m thinking,” I wonder how much that must cost?”

I can admit that my high moral ground pitched downward when I thought about walking again.  Putting my girls’ hair up in ponytails. Kicking the soccer ball to my son.  Accompanying my husband upstairs for those goodnight kisses.

I’ll be waiting to hear the updates on that patient.  I can’t wait to hear he’s doing whatever.

I hope there’s reason to jealous.

It means there’s reason to be even more hopeful.

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32 Responses to i shouldn’t have traded those stem cells for pizza rolls

  1. Kevin October 15, 2010 at 8:38 PM #

    I’m not sure I’m in favor of creating embryo’s JUST for the purpose of harvesting stem cells, but fertility clinics end up with discarded embryo’s all the time and I say, if those embryos are going to be discarded anyway, why not harvest stem cells from them, if they can help people like you regain some of the former life you lived?

    I hope you get some good news from this!

    Kevin´s last post…Trying Something New

  2. Dora October 14, 2010 at 12:42 PM #

    My 10 month old daughter is the result of embryo donation. Yet I support embryonic stem cell research 100%. Embryos are not babies. It took a total of 8 embryos (7 donated and 1 from my ancient ovaries) to get me pregnant with one baby. But donating unused embryos to another person to attempt a pregnancy is not a choice that’s comfortable for everyone. Obviously, I think it’s an amazing choice, as I’m finally a mom to my gorgeous miracle girl, but honestly, if I were in my donor’s shoes, with unused embryos to donate, I’m not sure I would be comfortable donating them to another family. There are so many embryos just sitting in storage that could be donated to research. And so many possible applications. It makes me crazy that we are years behind where we should be with embryonic stem cell research due to some idiotic politicians.

    Dora´s last post…Rock- Rock- Rock- Rock- RocknRoll Daycare!

  3. pgoodness October 13, 2010 at 9:39 PM #

    I think that stem cell research is one of the most important things our scientists are doing right now – I think it opens so many doors and is amazing. I’ve always supported it – I just can’t NOT support something that could save lives (or get people kicking a soccer ball) :)

  4. kpotterb October 12, 2010 at 10:35 PM #

    I am a believer in that life starts at fertilization. But who’s to say that that life (embryo) was not started as stem cells to help someone who’s already living? As it’s already been stated, I’d rather help someone than just throw it in the trash.

  5. Susie October 12, 2010 at 7:59 PM #

    Melissa brings up a good point. When you have different experiences in life, (0r your loved ones do) it can really change your outlook and compassion for others. My mom had a stroke, and it was extremely difficult to see her suffering. She was able to go from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane and that was with a lot of physical therapy (which she hated). It was humbling watching her struggle to walk across the room or when her short-term memory declined and she couldn’t remember what she had for lunch when I asked her on the phone.
    I also remember having a cold that was so bad that my ears were nearly completely blocked and I became a “deaf” person for a couple days. When my (late) husband was diagnosed with cancer in his early 40′s, I saw that struggle too but he never gave up and truly considered the cancer a minor inconvenience. All I know is that I’ve become a much more compassionate person from these personal experiences. Hope is the strongest medicine out there. Now go get tomorrow, Anissa, and never give up on hope…

    • Anissa Mayhew October 12, 2010 at 8:31 PM #

      I didn’t know anything could change me as much as Peyton being sick, but adding that to this has opened my eyes.

  6. Kristin October 12, 2010 at 11:27 AM #

    I think the renewal of stem cell research is one of the best things that has happened in the medical world.

    Kristin´s last post…In blog years

  7. melissa October 12, 2010 at 10:03 AM #

    It blows my mind how many things I used to believe and feel so strongly about that I have completely changed my mind about. Ice cream, pro choice/pro life, republican/democrat, milk chocolate/dark chocolate. What I have learned is that as soon as I say this is ABSOLUTELY how I feel about something, there’s a reason to reconsider. I’ve also learned that I can’t decide how anyone else should feel about something until I’ve lived their life or had their experience.

    Thanks for the reminder that just because I think I know what I would do, that’s not always reality.

    • Anissa Mayhew October 12, 2010 at 8:35 PM #

      I always wanted to believe that I had strong beliefs and convictions, but I really have to think that the ability to change is a strength too.

  8. Kizz October 12, 2010 at 9:17 AM #

    It’s all about responsibly obtaining the cells to use, I think. It’s all about helping people. ‘Cause for me? I want you to walk upstairs and kiss your kids goodnight and, as long as others aren’t harmed in the process, I’m going to be really angry at anyone who prevents you trying every possibility to get there.

  9. Wendy October 12, 2010 at 9:12 AM #

    Thanks for this post. I marvel at and fear science all at the same time. The intellectual part of me is fascinated at what we’ve learned to do, and how many advances have been made. The rational part of me thinks it’s truly amazing, and is all for it. However, the spiritual side of me kind of stands back and fears the fact that we have the ability to “play God” to some extent. It gives me little shivers to think how we have learned to tempt fate. At the end of the day, it’s hard to say which side of the stem cell debate I fall on. If my little girl was sick though, and stem cell’s could save her, there would be no doubt what I would do. Fuck fate, save my baby at all costs. Hmm… I guess I just figured out which side I DO fall on.

    Not sure if you read Jodi Picoult’s, “My Sister’s Keeper.” It gave me similar dissonance within myself.

    • Anissa Mayhew October 12, 2010 at 8:41 PM #

      I did read the book, when my daughter had cancer (I don’t recommend). It’s true, as a parent you have the thought, how far would you go, what would you go?

  10. TechyDad October 12, 2010 at 8:48 AM #

    I’ve got to agree with everyone else who pointed out that these rejected/unused embryos aren’t going to become babies. Making it seem like a choice between helping someone walk again and a baby’s life isn’t accurate. It’s a choice between the embryo being tossed in the trash (with other medical waste) or using it to find treatments/cures for people who are suffering first. Either way, those embryos are going to be destroyed. One way (simple disposal) doesn’t help anyone, the other way (stem cells) has a huge potential to save lives.

    TechyDad´s last post…Aloha Friday- 101010

    • Anissa Mayhew October 12, 2010 at 8:44 PM #

      You’re totally right. Those cells aren’t going to be a baby as far as I’m concerned. I just try to respect those people with beliefs about life starting at fertilization. Even if it isn’t helping when it could.

  11. Melinda October 12, 2010 at 8:47 AM #

    I agree with Whitney. With embryonic stem cell research, it isn’t that they are making “babies” to use in research. They are using embryos that would otherwise be destroyed. Those embryos are taking on a new purpose to possibly save someones life instead of becoming bio-hazard waste. That is something I can get behind.

  12. Kelly October 12, 2010 at 8:41 AM #

    Its a lot easier to be against something like stem cell research when it doesn’t really affect you. When you’re walking around healthy, its easier to look at that embryo and see a baby instead of a cure.

    I ride the fence on this one. I have feelings about fertilizing an embryo you know will probably die, whether because it gets donated to stem cell research or because the success rate for fertility treatments is so low. They implant 3 embryos HOPING two will die and only one baby will make it. And nobody really protests that, do they? But if you want to experiment with that same embryo that probably would have died anyway, people freak out.

    I hope you get to walk again, whether it be from stem cell research or some other treatment. I hate that some treatments requires such moral reflections. There are no easy answers.

    • Anissa Mayhew October 12, 2010 at 8:47 PM #

      i too wish there was an answer that didn’t bring such hard questions. Hopefully, there will be.

  13. Monica~MommyBrain October 12, 2010 at 8:15 AM #

    Read this story and tell me there isn’t hope that stem cells can heal:

    I know.. they used his own stem cells rather than a donors, but I think it just goes to prove the technology is out there. Science is amazing.. and even my Catholic brain loves the fact that there is hope. If they aren’t gonna use their own embryos.. give them to someone who may possibly heal from them!

    Monica~MommyBrain´s last post…Eggland’s Best Supports Susan G Komen!

    • Anissa Mayhew October 12, 2010 at 8:53 PM #

      I talked to someone who explained the basics of why your own cells are better than embryo and vice versa. Not asking, but maybe it will be possible someday.

  14. Jayne October 12, 2010 at 3:16 AM #

    Okay, I already commented once, but I was standing in my kitchen, making my little girl her breakfast (a boiled egg, ironically enough…) and your post still had me thinking.

    And I think I’ve realised what is is that BUGS me so much about these stem cell debates. Religious arguments aside, why is it that some people care more about a bunch of cell that will, to all intents and purposes, NEVER be a human being, than actual, existing human beings, who are suffering?

    That’s like saying “No, I don’t want to donate money to your charity which protects ill-treated horses, I’m going to donate to the Unicorn Sanctuary instead”.

    That is all.

    Jayne´s last post…There were three in the bed- and the little one said…

  15. Jayne October 12, 2010 at 2:57 AM #

    In my (very humble) opinion, we should feel far angrier at the prospect of these unwanted embryos going to waste, when there are so many people out there who could benefit from this incredible technology.

    As far as the embryo/baby argument goes, I know what you’re saying, but at the end of the day, it’s a minute bundle of cells, which won’t become a baby unless someone chooses to implant it in their uterus. If it’s a choice between the cells being put to good use, or being tossed into an incinerator, surely that’s a no-brainer?

    And anyways, these fuckers who protest about butchering babies are probably the same ones who let their loved ones die because they don’t want them to have a blood transfusion, so who really gives a tiny shit what they think?

    Jayne´s last post…There were three in the bed- and the little one said…

  16. Lorrie October 12, 2010 at 2:51 AM #

    Oh WOW. Maybe we’ll get better? P.S. Will be getting in touch soon about the idea I wrote you about


  17. Twenty Four At Heart October 12, 2010 at 2:24 AM #

    I’ve always been a supporter of using stem cells which would otherwise go to waste. I can’t understand why anyone would NOT support that. It’s not like men in white coats are out snatching babies away from their mothers, murdering them and then disecting them for science. I think it’s going to be AMAZING what we see in this and related fields over the next decade. Very exciting progress!

    Twenty Four At Heart´s last post…Family Portrait

  18. Jill October 12, 2010 at 12:58 AM #

    love this post. i hope there’s reason to be jealous, too.

  19. SharonHeg October 11, 2010 at 10:30 PM #

    I’ve always been a strong supporter of using embryonic stem cells – must be the OT in me to want to see people with disabilities be able to improve ;-) For the sake of everyone who might be helped, I sure hope it helps!

    SharonHeg´s last post…The Multiple Uses of Spaghetti Tongs

    • Anissa Mayhew October 12, 2010 at 8:55 PM #

      I think this raises all sorts of questions and opens all kinds of doors.

  20. Cecily October 11, 2010 at 10:28 PM #

    I donated eight frozen embryos to Harvard. Because I live in Pennsylvania I almost wasn’t allowed to; but luckily, my fertility clinic (and storage center) were both based in New Jersey.

    Honey, nothing — NOTHING — would make me happier than knowing our stem cells were helping you heal. But I’m sure wherever they end up they will help someone, somewhere. Someone’s Anissa is being helped. I hope.

    Cecily´s last post…National Coming Out Day

    • Anissa Mayhew October 12, 2010 at 8:56 PM #

      i love you!

  21. Erica October 11, 2010 at 10:26 PM #

    It’s things like these that make me think : I {heart} science.

    Seriously, I know there is a lot of debate about it and women who do have embryos they no longer need have tough decisions to make about what to do with them… But isn’t it amazing how they can help someone regain something once lost?

  22. Whitney October 11, 2010 at 10:11 PM #

    I couldn’t agree with you more… I am glad you pointed out that he “received the stem cells from a rejected embryo from a fertility clinic.” A lot of people miss that point. If it is no use to one person & only going to be THROWN AWAY why can someone else make very good use of it. I pray that you can someday receive that a stem cell transplant yourself!

    • Anissa Mayhew October 12, 2010 at 8:58 PM #

      I’m glad that you got that. It changes things and I don’t think everyone knows where the cells come from.


  1. Inspiration: Anissa Mayhew, Stroke Survivor, Aims for Honesty « Mom it Forward - April 13, 2011

    [...] world. Visit FreeAnissa, and you get a better feel for who she is, in posts with titles like “I Shouldn’t Have Traded Those Stem Cells for Pizza Rolls” and “Sometimes Progress Can Be Measured in Shrimp.” By the time you visit [...]

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