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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Visiting professor to speak on the ethics of placing newborn child in isolated bubble

University of Arkansas history professor James H. Jones will speak at the Ethics in Science Lecture Series from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday in room 232 of Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall about the decision to put David Vetter in a bubble.

According to a UH press release, Vetter was born in 1971 with severe combined immunodeficiency, a rare hereditary disease that destroys the immune system. Moments after his birth, he was placed in an isolator that maintained a germ-free environment. The medical scientists who cared for him were unable to find a cure or devise a strategy to free him from isolation. Consequently, Vetter spent all but a few days of his 12 years of life inside this bubble, unable to touch or be touched. His brief period of freedom came in 1984 when he was dying and too ill to enjoy it.

Jones will approach this subject as an important case study in human experimentation, analyzing the complicated decision to place Vetter in the isolator and the ethical issues related to this decision.

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