"How then were your eyes opened?" they asked. He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see."
People who are sick pray for miracles. Well, a miracle of sorts has taken place in Italy even though one of the study leaders, Graziella Pellegrini of the University of Modena's Center for Regenerative Medicine in Italy, brushed it off. "Some said it was a miracle," reported Pelligrini, "It was not a miracle. It was simply a technique."
Well, she's right. It was a medical technique, but to the 82 out of 107 people, including one man who has been blind for sixty years, who had their sight fully restored and 14 others who they are calling a partial success, it was nothing short of miraculous.
Imagine not been able to see for even just one hour and then a simple operation restores your sight. What would you call it. Some believe and some don't, but before this procedure was made public, you could only pray for something like this. How about now?
When I first read this story it was billed as a 'breakthrough' so my first instinct was to see when this all occurred (actually, my first instinct was to think that it was another story about rats - I almost fell out of my chair when I realized it was about people). Was it today? Yesterday? Maybe even last week? My impression of a breakthrough is something that has just happened, especially when I see it written in the newspaper as current news.
This study or experiment, or whatever you wish to call it, was conducted between 1998 and 2007. First I though that the first nine years were just a testing phase. No, as I went on to read the rest of the article it shows very clearly that one person has had his sight back for over ten years. Imagine seeing a NEWSpaper headline mentioning the 'atomic bomb breakthrough' just to find out that it's a piece about 1945.
So why are there two blind people in the hospital here with me? They better keep praying as it doesn't appear that they'll be getting their new corneas any time in the near future.
Then I noticed something else. The Telegraph article has a 'related articles' box and I saw another article, 'Blind could be cured by stem cells grown in contact lenses'. Why did the paper have two separate articles about the same thing? Well, it's not the same story. Just basically the same procedure, but carried out in Australia in 2009. I started to get a sick feeling in my stomach.
Why are scientists in Australia and Italy and the Telegraph and other newspapers all talking about breakthroughs. It appears that they did it a long time ago, especially from the perspective of someone who is blind right now. They have healed the blind, but the two blind guys in my hospital are probably wearing out their rosary beads, because they've not heard of this.
I then thought that if it's not yet available it must be a complicated operation. 'Not so' is the answer from the Australian researchers who call it "totally simple and cheap." They go on about how beautifully simple this procedure is. "It requires no major operation...If you're going to be treating these sorts of diseases in Third World countries all you need is the surgeon and a lab for cell culture. You don't need any fancy equipment."
Where are they doing this procedure? If they can do it in the third world, why aren't they doing it in the first, second or one hundredth world yet?
Let's hope that this isn't scientific research for the sake of scientific research which gets left at three people in Australia and one hundred and six people in Italy.
I will write more after I write to some organizations in both Italy and Australia to find the status of these therapies or research and will therefore save some of my judgement for later, but I must admit that my sick stomach feeling isn't going away.
PS. Thank you to all of you who asked about me not writing for the past week or so. My computer crashed and I was without the internet for about one week. Worse than that, I lost a lot of my research for future stories, but I'm slowly getting back to speed and should have one or two posts per week from now on.