Families Say Cloning Embryonic Cells Saves Lives

By Esme Murphy, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Bills that would ban human cloning are moving forward in the state legislature. The bills would also limit embryonic stem cell research and make cloning of embryonic cells illegal.

Emotions ran high as a group of families gathered at the capitol, arguing that cloning of embryonic cells has lead to breakthroughs that have saved lives.

Supporters of this bill point out that none of the patients whose families spoke out on Thursday got a treatment that involved embyonic stem cellls. And that is true.

But the families say it is the research on embyonic cells that have lead to breaktroughs, or potential breakthroughs, with adult stem cells.

Like in the case of 5-year-old Charlie Knuth, who had an adult stem cell transplant just three months ago.

Knuth was born with a rare skin disease called Epidermolysis Bullosa. Abandoned at birth, Knuth had sores all over his body and looked like a burn victim. Both outside and on the inside of his body, the skin falls off, blisters and bleeds.

Knuth was adopted as an infant. His mother, who spoke at Thursday’s press conference, had to give him baths of bleach and vinegar to prevent infection. After one bath she described how she broke down as her son kept screaming.

“When I tried to hug his ravaged body, I began to cry and at that moment, a 2-year-old child began to comfort me,” she said. “‘Mama, don’t cry, don’t cry mama, it’s OK.'”

A few months ago Knuth had a stem cell transplant at the University of Minnesota. He has been living at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis with his family since then.

His condition has improved dramatically. His skin is significantly better, he has only a few sores and for the first time ever, he can wear shoes and touch other people without fear or pain.

Knuth said that when he used to hug people his face would “fall off.” Now, he says that doesn’t happen.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, which supports this bill, point out that none of the research currently done at the U of M involves cloning of human embryonic cells.

But researchers said that could one day change.

Dr. John Wagner said that embryonic stem cell research presents the greatest hope for not just breakthroughs but actual cures for deadly diseases.

Still, supporters of the legislation say breakthroughs with embryonic stem cells are unlikely.

Republican Sen. Michael Jungbauer said during his argument on the Senate floor that science is too unpredictable.

“There won’t be any breakthrough,” he said. “Science is going different directions.”

More from Esme Murphy
  • This is ridiculous

    Thank God we have Dr. Sen. Michael Jungbauer to declare “NO BREAKTHROUGH IS GOING TO HAPPEN! OKAY!”

    This needs to not pass. If Dr. Sen. Michael Jungbauer and the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life now dictate that science is going in a different direction, then fine, let it. But we don’t need another law to ban it in case it ever does want to go that direction. This is so hypocritical of the Republican party (and I vote Republican) they scream for less government, fewer laws that hold business and research back until it contradicts their own private moral agendas.

    • Superchik1017

      EXACTLY! *Applause*

    • Jeff


  • alanp

    The Republicans have no morals it’s just pandering for votes and they don’t care who will die needlessly for a vote.

  • Just a Dude

    We are an amazing society. We justify any means to keep the living alive and yet kill the unborn as a simple matter of convenience.

    • JEANIE

      Simply said and to the point. Can’t argue with that!

    • Worker bee

      Just a Dude. You haven’t got it quite right. Republicans only want to protect stem cells and the unborn. Once you’re alive and born, you’re on your own. They don’t care about the elderly–look at all the programs for the old, young, disabled, and anyone who voted for Democrats that they want to get rid of!

  • joyce

    you all keep messing with Gods work u’ll see His fury i bet, i wouldn’t play with God. u can rationalize it all u want, but after u take what ever from the clone what do u do to the rest of it ……… man ur crazy to take God on wait and see.

    • Josh

      Apparently Joyce has one of those phones that connects directly to God -kind of like Commissioner Gordon had with Batman.

    • Mike

      Hey Joyce, If god was concerned with cloning he wouldn’t have made it possible!

    • Superchik1017

      Joyce, no one is trying to take God “on.” This woman wants to save her child and is worried about all the lives that could be lost if this bill passes. I really don’t think God would be upset at a mother for doing everything in her power to save her child. But, if you feel it is wrong, then when (if) you have a child and it is terrible sick, please take comfort in knowing that, as you stood by and watched him/her slowly slip away from you, that God thought it was the right thing to do.

    • Worker bee

      Humans have “messed with God’s work” since the beginning of time. We have developed domesticated animals, genetically tweaked crops to develop today’s hybrids, the examples are too numerous to mention. Europe is already years and years ahead of America in medical science. American lost a decade of breakthroughs under “W.” This is a backward step for Minnesota.

      • alanp

        Well said could not have said it better.

  • Audrey

    Hey, Joyce, have you ever taken a medication or had surgery? Then you have “messed with God’s work!”

  • ddg

    Hey, Just a Dude, Stem Cells are only harvested from already deceased bodies, no one is killed needlessly, also no one is saying lets clone a whole person. Almost all cloning talks are about organs and using tissue from our own body, that way we don’t need to sit around hoping and praying to God to kill someone so we can live. We would be able to use cells from our own body to stay alive without the expense of others. And yes, the stem cells are from organ donors, but they are blank slates and can work for everyone. So no one needs to pray for death of someone of the right match….no more black market organ Sales!!

  • Daniella

    Obviously those who are against the research have never had a child or family member afflicted with a disease. Of course if it was your family member you would probably change your view point, I can guarantee that. No one is trying to do gods work, yes we are tampering with the cards that were dealt, but no child should have to suffer needlessly, if we can provide them comfort or even a cure lets do it! Look at this poor child, the transformation is amazing!

  • snowflake mommy

    I have 2 good reasons why embryonic stem cell research should not be federally funded. They are my sons. I suffered with infertility for years but I was able to become a mom by adopting unused embryos from another couple. I look into the faces of what others call research every day. I’m so thankful that someone cares enough to speak for these precious lives. I feel for families whose children, parents, spouses and other loved ones suffer with illnesses and diseases. There are other stem cells that can be used for research – cord blood for example. Put money into that. Embryonic stem cell research is going to continue through private funding no matter what but I shouldn’t have to use my money to help fund it.

    • Mike

      Snowflake-As your neighbor, I put up with your kids and I pay property taxes to support their education. When you have the “right” to decide where you want your tax dollars spent and the legislation allows it, I will be the first one in line to eliminate my taxes that support you too………

      • snowflake mommy

        So Mike, you never had kids, not an uncle, never been supported by tax dollars in any way, shape or form ever in your life? I would gladly give you back the tax dollars you spend on my children. And I do have the right to decide how my tax dollars are spent. We don’t always get what we want, but I sure am going to fight for it.

  • Citizen

    Snowflake mommy. There are plenty of people on the planet. I thought the anti-abortion people promote adoption. Adoption wasn’t good enough for you? Take in two kids who needed a home? You needed to make more humans–probably because you arrogantly believe that only your DNA is good enough? If I were as crazy as the extreme religious people, I would probably say your infertility was a sign from God. I sure hope your two kids never need the embryonic stem cell research data because, since you are so against this stuff, be sure you don’t ask for help for them if they need stem cells. Just following your convoluted logic.

    • snowflake mommy

      I didn’t use my DNA. Read what I said. I ADOPTED embryos from another couple. It was someone else’s DNA. As far as adopting children already born, the same logic can be used with you. Do you have biological children? Anyone in your family? If so, shouldn’t you have adopted instead of using your DNA? This argument can go round and round (and has). I’m not about to defend my decicions to you or anyone else because nothing I would say would get through. You have your opinions and I have mine. I’m passionate about my stance but will not lower myself to be as offensive and rude as all of you for embryonic stem cell research.

  • Citizen

    Hey flakey mommy. You are free to NOT use stem cell research. I should be free TO USE stem cell research. My personal choices are none of your business. You made your choices public. Your type of person wants to limit other peoples’ rights and choices according to your agenda and beliefs. Who says you are right? Who says I am right? Shouldn’t we all just have the right to do or not do something? You want to make everything a moral issue and it isn’t. It’s scientific advancement.

    • snowflake mommy

      Take a deep breath. Have some coffe. Relax. Your elevated blood pressure is going to give you a heart attack. Why so mean? Goodness. Can’t anyone have a friendly conversation nowadays? Like I said, no one can get through to people who are so offensive and rude as people like you. The end!

  • Citizen

    And “you people” just want to eliminate anyone’s choices that you want to moralize about. There was a time when plenty of people didn’t want to allow you the research that gave you your children. You should be grateful that people fought for the research that enabled you to have your sons. Instead, you want to moralize about something that will help a lot of children like the little boy in the story. You and your kind should be ashamed–deeply ashamed. If you think I’m mean, good. This isn’t a friendly conversation, the elimination of this research will cost some precious lives. I just buried a relative who had the worst kind of Parkinson’s. This research will be too late to help her, but I want it to go forward to help others. You are the mean-spirited moralizer.

    • alanp

      Citizen you are wasting logic with people like Snowflake they gave up thinking a long time ago. People like her do not realise that Embyronic stem cell research is vital for cord blood to be used they let their pastor do their thinking for them.

      I knew a neighbor who if “W Bush” had let the research happen without his funding restrictions there would have been a therapy for her to try.
      But there was nothing to try but a slow death so much for people who like Snowflake don’t think it through or care.

      One final thought Snowflake do you know what happens to the unused Embyro”s? They are disposed, rinsed down the sink now why can’t they be used for research to save lives of of the sick and dieing? Some of those Embyro’s are not viable to be implanted so why can’t those Embyo’s be used for research?

      The medicine we use today not that long ago has condemed by the church you would have not had your “snowflake baby” if it not for Embyronic Stem Cell research that was done years ago to make it possible.

      • snowflake mommy

        All you’re doing is fueling my fire to continue to fight against making cloning legal and using embryos for stem cell research. So keep up the personal attacks. It will do you no good.

        I’m well aware of what happens to unused embryos, which is why I also fight to make individuals aware of programs where couples can adopt unused embryos. And I’ve known plenty of women who have gotten pregnant and delivered a baby from embryos that were medically considered not viable because they didn’t seem like they would continue to divide.

        I care about all life, but I’m not willing to kill one to save another.

        • alanp

          Snowflake continue your fight but do some more research about stem cells you sound very confused with your logic.

          Go to the sick and injured and convince them that doing nothing is the “Moral” thing to do.

  • Ang

    Why is it Rude to be honest. No one wants to hear the truth anymore. This IS morally reprehensible. Sorry. The end doesn’t justify the means. There has never been anything promising coming out of embryonic stem cell cloning.EVER. There are plenty of other sources of stem cell research. Adult for instance HAS produced promising results. Immoral is immoral whether or not society thinks so. This age is going down the tubes morally. Whether or not anyone reading this article believes me or not doesn’t really matter. Wrong is wrong is wrong. Period.

    • snowflake mommy

      You’re right. It’s not rude to be honest. It’s rude to personally attack someone for their beliefs which is what some of these people are doing. There are many, many adults who can control themselves enough to have an adult conversation without personally attacking. These people obviously are not those adults. Not only has embryonic stem cell research not shown anything promising, but in some studies it has been shown that embryonic stem cells have a mind of their own and have actually grown into cancer cells. ‘Volatile’ is what I heard one researcher say. What people also have seemed to overlook is that the people (in this article) who spoke out for embryonic stem cell research were never given treatment using embryonic stem cells, but regular ole stem cells from other sources. This little boys has been ‘cured’ by stem cells from other sources – not embryonic stem cells.

      • Trisha Knuth

        My son was not cured by any means. This was simply a “treatment” not a cure. This is the only “treatment.” AND this treatment was only made possible by the research of embryonic stem cells. ALSO, my son Charlie was one step away from death because of the Harsh Anti-rejection drugs required to receive the adult stem cells. Why can I not have the choice, as his mother, to donate my eggs to be frozen and someday….be used as a cure for my own son’s disease???

        • Citizen

          Trisha, I pray for Charlie to get continually better. He looks like a wonderful, brave little boy. When i read the words of flakey mommy, “I care about all life, but I’m not willing to kill one to save another,” I want to scream. She is such a hypocrite. She is more than willing to trade the lives of children like Charlie for her so-called morality. I find it scary that her motherhood has not made her wiser; she is as narrow-minded and misguided as other right-wing fanatics.

        • Daniella

          I stand by you 100%, I guarantee if any of the nay-sayers family members or children were afflicted, they would about face immediately. People are always against what they don’t know or choose not to understand. I have lost a child before and I understand the pain that you feel when you are unable to help them. So I say if the “treatment” is working, then keep doing it. Even though it is not a cure, maybe by continuing research we can find a cure for all these diseases.

  • Citizen

    Hey Ang, how about giving a specific example of what is morally wrong about stem cell cloning? Do you even know what it is? I’m waiting for those specific examples that God wrote about in the Bible. The little boy in the story is the evidence that stem cells make a HUGE medical difference. Hope you never need this research.

  • Citizen

    P.S. to Ang. Just in case you ever need the results of stem cell research, be sure you don’t use those medical procedures to save your life. Be sure you die with your morality intact.

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