A spinal-cord patient has charged that Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Florida) used her image without permission and misled Congress and the public by suggesting that her case offers evidence that adult stem cells can help severely injured people walk again.Fajt received adult stem cells from her nasal passage in an experimental procedure to improve her paralysis. While Fajt has since had some limited improvement, no one is sure if it was due to the stem cells or not.
Susan Fajt, who suffered a spinal-cord injury in a car accident in November 2001 that left her with little sensation from her chest down, e-mailed Weldon, who is also a physician, on Wednesday detailing her complaints and requesting an apology.
She believes Weldon's comments and his use of her image gave patients and lawmakers, who were about to vote on a bill that would approve funding for embryonic stem-cell research, the false impression that adult stem-cell therapy can cure spinal-cord injuries.
"This poster is of a young lady who was paralyzed for years and had an adult stem-cell transplant," Weldon said that day. "She is able to stand up."
Fajt supports research in all areas of the stem cell field and is angry that she would be used in such a way.
"If Weldon wouldn't have used me and said a cure is going to be found with adult stem-cell research, embryonic stem-cell research may have been federally funded," Fajt said in an interview.
This is yet an addition example of the anti-intellectual and anti-science tendency in the conservative community and the lengths to which they will go to deny the facts to the voters and the people.
At the very least there are complex issues that must be addressed but they require absolute clarity and complete access to the facts involved. The conservatives in this country place ideology over facts to the detriment of us all. Most of them demonstrate little to no understanding of the issues or what is at stake.
Here in Missouri we have had to deal with the return of creationism in schools, deceptive teachings in sex education as well as the continuing debate over stem cell research.
Much of the stem-cell debate does lie in the realm of the ethical, but using deceptive practices to further your cause does nothing to improve our understanding of the issue.
But is it even possible to debate ethics with those who deny facts that disagree with their world view?