Selfless Compassion often the Key to Successful Medical Research

In death, there are still many ways for us to make meaningful contributions to society.  For instance, a single person can forever change the lives of several through organ donation. Donating a body to a medical school can ensure that the next generation of physicians are well-trained.  And, donating all or part of a body to a research facility can advance the quest for better medical treatment, improving health care for all.  While these types of donations are not for everyone, this kind of generosity is often motivated by a desire to give back, and give back it does.

We all have the ability to make these choices for ourselves, but what about when a parent is called upon to make that decision for a child?  Few things in life can be more gut-wrenching than the loss of a child.  Yet, in the midst of that despair, parents can be asked to made hard decisions, but ones that can have life-saving consequences for others.

Case in Point  – A recent discovery was made involving diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a rare, inoperable cancer which invades a child’s brainstem causing death, leaving no real treatment options. Here is a link to some treatment study abstracts.

Because the tumors are inoperable, doctors have not been regularly able to obtain samples of the cancer to study.  Recognizing the problem, they decided to ask parents if they could autopsy affected children and sample their tumors.  A surprising number of parents agreed.  Using that tissue, scientists then made a  remarkable genetic finding that is likely to be the basis for the development of future treatment.  That simply would not have been possible but for those selfless, compassionate parents who wanted to bring meaning to their children’s short lives and, hopefully, save the lives of children in the future

The Moral – So, the next time you have a medical procedure or are in need of medication that likely will prolong you life or make it more comfortable, remember to thank those that have gone before you whose contributions helped make those medical advances possible.  Better yet, do something for future generations yourself – become a donor.  Here’s how.


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