A Birth Gives Insight into Medical Research

Article excerpt

At one time, I never thought about medical research. I had come to expect the miracles of modern medicine to save lives, prevent illness and relieve suffering. I, like most Americans, was far removed from the research laboratories. I didn't know medical cures and treatments were developed through years of intensive research in which laboratory animals have played a critical role. I benefited from the advancements but never considered how they were developed.

The moment my son was born, my life changed. This tiny baby was the essence of all that is precious in life. He made me see how important it is to think about the future, to appreciate the past and to live in the present. I was lucky. My son was born healthy. Many parents are not so lucky. These mothers and fathers can only hope that medical research has advanced far enough to provide the needed care for their infants.

As I watch my son grow, I am thankful that medical research has provided protection from many diseases that caused so much suffering in the past. Each time he is vaccinated, I hold him close and carefully wipe away his few tears. I can't imagine the pain parents felt as they tried to console their children stricken with polio, fighting to survive inside an iron lung. Biomedical research gave us the polio vaccine. The most common childhood cancer, leukemia, results in death if not treated. Today, thanks to bone marrow transplants first performed in animal models, leukemia can be treated successfully allowing these children to live normal lives.

Humans are not the only species benefiting from biomedical research. New medical advances are used by veterinarians to save pets, enhance the health of farm animals and preserve a future for wildlife and endangered species.

The past, present and future of medical research is at the core of our survival and laboratory animals are at the core of medical research. …