I look forward to Chris’ emails every week. They are not bogged down with advertisements or links to his websites, rather they reflect his thoughts on recent subjects. In the last one he asks what has been the most important invention in your lifetime. As Chris mentioned, it’s easy to come up with recent things like the iPAD, iPHONE and other things that, while great inventions, are not really what he was looking for. I have thought this morning about what has been invented in the 40 years since my birth and tried to focus more on things that improve and save lives. These are the inventions that tend to be kept in the shadows and only really known by those who use them.
I have mentioned a young boy named Hunter a few times in my posts and a recent invention has enabled him to be alive today. He is an 11 year old boy that had a heart transplant 2 years ago. In the not too distant past, even 5 years ago, his prognosis would have been poor. In the past, the number one reason for mortality in heart transplant patients was the immune system rejecting the alien organ. In the past medications to suppress the immune system was the only way to prevent this. The drawback is that the medications effect the entire immune system, preventing the body from fighting other diseases as well. Recent studies have developed the ability to genetically alter the cells that control what other immune cells do in the body. These special white blood cells or “T-Cells” are “taught” not to attack the transplanted organ without compromising the body’s ability to fight off everything else.
While Hunter still has to take medications for the rest of his life to help ensure that his body remains as healthy as possible, this discovery has increased his chances of living a long, normal life dramatically. Because of the fast development and improvements, you would never know this little boy had a transplant unless you were told. Now, instead of a life expectancy of 10 years, he can look forward to 20 years and beyond. During that time, other, more effective means will be developed that promises to ensure he not only lives a full life span, but even beyond today’s average0
Because of the fact that Hunter is here for me to know and care for (he is sort of the apartment complex mascot and we all look out for him) I say this transplant technology is the most important right now.