Popular author and speaker Tony Robbins is out with a new book, released just last week, titled “Life Force: How New Breakthroughs in Precision Medicine Can Transform the Quality of Your Life and Those You Love.”
Burdened by a painful shoulder and inspired to write the book after speaking with Dr. Robert Hariri, a renowned surgeon and biomedical scientist, Robbins recently relayed a portion of that first conversation with the pioneering physician.
According to the author, Dr. Hariri suggested Robbins’ ailing and damaged shoulder might benefit from stem cell treatment. “I don’t want any fetal cells,” Robbins replied. The doctor quickly put him at ease.
“Nobody does those anymore,” Dr. Hariri assured him. As it was, Hariri’s interest in an alternative way to approach the use of stem cells was predicated on his own opposition to the use of embryonic cells.
Looking back to the early 1990s, he recalled:
“At the time, people were getting them [stem cells] from leftover embryos or from the by-products of an abortion,” he recalls. “And I felt that the field would be horribly impeded if the only way to get cells is to destroy an embryo, or as a by-product of a termination. I would never want to try and create and sell a product coming from those sources.”
Yet, once upon a time, “fetal” or “embryonic” stem cells were hailed and heralded – as in this 2004 New York Times article:
Scientists and advocates for patients say that embryonic stem cells, which can give rise to any type of tissue or organ in the body, hold great promise for treatments and cures.
At the time, social conservatives were routinely mocked and criticized for opposing the use of embryonic stem cells, whose use and experimentation require the destruction of human life. We were accused of standing in the way of progress. High profile celebrities like Christopher Reeves and Michael J. Fox, both hobbled by heartbreaking physical handicaps of their own, lobbied for the expansion and public funding of embryo experimentation.
But time often tells where wisdom lies, and all the evidence up until this point suggests the wisdom of doing the right thing – rejecting the use of embryonic stem cells – has yielded the most promise of all.
Studies and experimental treatments featuring placenta and umbilical cord-derived stem cell therapy, along with autologous stem cell transplants (use of your own stem cells) have been used to treat spinal cord injuries, joint pain, intestinal diseases and various forms of cancer and other illnesses.
While final results and long-term success remain an open question, the results thus far have been encouraging. The rapidly emerging “regenerative” field of medicine is relying heavily on the use of ethically obtained stem cells. This is a very good thing, and we should encourage and champion moral innovation.
But don’t expect to read about embryonic stem cell therapy failures in mainstream media or the fact that “nobody does those anymore.” It seems advocates have too much invested to reverse course, even though they would be wise to do so.
In the end, as the old saying goes, it’s never right to do wrong – and it’s never wrong to do what’s right. Destroying one life to possibly save or improve another is a “Hobson’s Choice” – we must always pursue the good and steer clear of the bad.
The very best news at this point, however, is that we and all those praying for help, may very well soon benefit from those who have pursued ethical and moral pathways to cures.
Photo from Twitter.