SCID’s Come a Long Way, Thanks to the Boy in the Bubble

A couple of months ago we took a look at the legacy of David Vetter, the “Boy in the Plastic Bubble” whose lifelong battle with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) caught the public’s attention in the 70’s and 80’s.

Though the methods seem almost barbaric now, SCID benefited immensely by David Vetter’s courageous SCID fight. 

Though David lost his battle more than 30 years ago, the lessons scientists learned from his experience continue to have an impact on today’s SCID patients. While the public awareness he brought to the disease has waxed and waned over the years, his story continues to find its way back into the public conversation. And so has one of its most important lessons: The importance of early detection.

It’s easy for us to forget, though, that at the heart of this story were real lives, hopes, and dreams. The New York Times Retro Report video documentary “The Boy in the Bubble” serves up a potent reminder of what those lives looked like and what happened to David when the eyes of the world weren’t watching. It wasn’t always pretty, and there were plenty of unexpected complications and heartbreak. But David’s bravery in the face of insurmountable odds continues to inspire.

If you want to learn more about David and his legacy check out the Retro Report video. Along with lots of archived news footage (and some cringe-worthy popular culture interpretations of David’s story), you’ll hear new interviews with David’s mom and his doctor. There’s also some discussion of the ethical issues they grappled with, and the heartbreak of the unintended consequences from the bone marrow transplant that ultimately ended David’s life.

It may not be an easy watch, but if you’re trying to learn more about SCID and the role the “Bubble Boy” played in raising awareness of it, the video is definitely worth 12 minutes of your time.

Additional links:

Ronald Ledsen

Ronald Ledsen

After emigrating from his native Sweden, Ronald spent a stint in the Merchant Marines while trying to work out what he wanted to do with his life. He discovered a love of writing while helping a friend write anonymous Harry Potter fan-fiction online; he discovered meaning to his writing when he began journaling after an anxiety disorder diagnosis. Ronald is most relaxed when spending quiet time with his wife, two sons, and hyperactive cat.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email