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A Promise to Fulfill

Two years ago, I made a difficult promise.

A motorcycle accident had just left my sister broken—immobile from the shoulders down. A respirator jutted from her open mouth, leaving her unable to talk. For a number of weeks, we only could communicate through her blinking, bloodshot eyes.

Obviously, complicated questions were difficult for her to ask because of our communication system, but it didn’t stop her from asking one that would change the course of both our lives. “Will I ever walk again,” she said.

I hesitated. At that time, I had been apprised of the injury’s weighty statistics. She had not. The grim numbers could crush hopes.

I sat next to her, unable to lie to someone I loved, but searching for an answer that wouldn’t deflate her belief in a recovery. I can still feel the torment of those few moments. Then suddenly, a presence (which I now believe was God) rested a soothing hand on me and gave me the answer I’d been searching for.

Kiki and Liz

Sisters

I looked directly into her eyes and promised her she would walk again one day. No lies, no false hope, it was and will be the truth.

However, I knew with that promise would come years of physical therapy, weeks of hospital stays, hours of grueling training, moments of utter failure, with brief glimpses of success to guide our path. To this day—and every day until she takes those first few steps—we will continue on our journey.

Our resolve to a positive outcome makes the politics of embryonic stem cells even harder to bear. A little over a week ago, a judge halted federally funded stem cell research, finding it a violation of Congress’ ban on federal funding for research that destroys human embryos.

During Bush’s presidency, he had allowed federally funded research on 21 existing stem cell lines. So far, Obama has expanded it to 75. According to the Associated Press, the National Institute of Health insisted on evidence that any woman or couple who donated the original embryo did so voluntarily and were told of other options, such as donating to another infertile woman.

Embryonic stem cell proponents only want to use existing embryos that would otherwise be discarded. Fertilizing eggs for profit isn’t on the menu.

Although I disagree with the ruling, I understand the judge held up the law. It’s the law that needs to be changed so scientists can get proper funding for their research.

It must be extremely frustrating for them— almost a frustrating as trying to walk with a damaged central nervous system.

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