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David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)

Pics | 23 Jun, 2010 | Views: 53845 |  +12   |  

David Phillip Vetter (September 21, 1971 – February 22, 1984) was a boy from Shenandoah, Texas, United States who suffered from a rare genetic disease now known as severe combined immune deficiency syndrome (SCID). Forced to live in a sterile environment, he became popular with the media as the boy in the plastic bubble. He spent most of his life at Texas Children's Hospital, but in 1981, David was discharged to his parents' full-time care. He died of cancer in 1984 after an unmatched bone marrow transplant from his sister.

1 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)

David's parents, David Joseph Vetter Jr. and Carol Ann Vetter, had one daughter, Katherine; their first son, named David Joseph Vetter III, died seven months after birth. Doctors said that the baby boy had been born with a defective thymus, a gland which is important in the functioning of the immune system, due to a genetic condition, SCID. Each further son the couple might conceive would have a 50% chance of inheriting the same condition. Three doctors from Baylor College of Medicine — John Montgomery, Mary Ann South and Raphael Wilson — told the Vetters that if they had another child with SCID, the child could be placed in a sterile isolator until a bone marrow transplant could be performed, using the older sister, Katherine, as a donor. The couple were anxious to have another child to carry on the family name. So, believing that after a short treatment their child could live a normal life, they decided to go through another pregnancy. However, after the birth of David, it was discovered that Katherine was not a match, thus removing the possibility of the transplant. There was no private or public discussion of what would happen if no cure was found, or how long the prospective child would remain in the bubble.


2 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)

A special sterilized cocoon bed was prepared for David at his birth. Less than 10 seconds after being removed from his mother's womb, David entered the plastic germ-free environment that would be his home for most of his life. Devout Catholics, the Vetters arranged for Dr. Raphael Wilson, who was also a monk, to baptize David once he had entered the bubble with sterilized holy water.


3 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)

The doctors had decided that a bone marrow transplant might give David's immune system a jump start; however they had expected that David's sister, Katherine, would be a match. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Now, what was set up as a temporary solution had become his home, and as he grew, they had to allocate a hospital room in which he could live. As the years went by, David moved to other environments in the hospital, each one bigger to fit him and the bubble.


4 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)

Water, air, food, diapers, clothes, all were disinfected with special cleaning agents before entering his cocoon. He was handled only through special plastic gloves attached to the walls. Before anything could go into the bubble, extra glue and labels would be removed, the product would be placed in a chamber filled with ethylene oxide gas for four hours at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60?C), and then aerated for a period of one to seven days before it could finally go in the bubble.


5 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)

The bubble had very loud motors that would keep it inflated, which made it difficult for David to have conversations and for people listening to hear him. When David was three, a playroom was added to his bubble, measuring 11 feet (3.4 m) long, six and a half feet wide and eight feet tall. When a United Press International photographer arrived to document David's first venture into his new playroom, David refused to go into the new addition to his bubble. David's mother called in Mary Murphy, a woman working on her doctorate in psychology and who had met David once before. Murphy convinced David to go into the playroom section to get a better glimpse of a goldfish she held, and she was then invited back for therapy sessions with David.
The researchers and his parents tried to give him a life as normal as possible: he had formal education and watched TV (the Hospital provided him with a small television set in his bubble). However, he longed to participate in the outside world that he could see out the window and on television. He said on one occasion: "Whatever I do depends on what somebody else decides I do. Why school? Why did you make me learn to read? What good will it do? I won't ever be able to do anything anyway. So why? You tell me why."
By 1974, David, around age 3 could spend up to two or three weeks at a time at his parents' home in Conroe, Texas in a bubble set up for him there. When he was home, his sister would sleep in the living room next to his bubble. The two siblings were close, although they would sometimes even have physical fights and shoving matches using the gloves into the bubble. Once, David punched Katherine using the gloves and then went to the other side of the bubble, where he couldn't be reached with the gloves. However, in the end Katherine would have the upper hand in their disagreements: she could threaten to unplug his bubble, which she did a few times. Even if his primary bubble deflated, he had a separate area he could go into while he asked her to plug the bubble back in.




6 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)

When David was four years old, he discovered he could poke holes in his cocoon using a butterfly syringe that was left in his possession by accident. This led his doctor, Raphael Wilson, Ph.D., to tell David about germs and David's special condition for the first time. Murphy would help David through any crisis he may have, but she said that David's nurses mostly wanted him to "behave" and "be compliant".
Eventually, David realized what his life would be like, according to Murphy: "Even though David was only five, he recognized his difference and dreaded what the future held - limited choices, feelings of alienation and an increased need to be polite and compliant so as not to reveal his anger".
Many famous dignitaries, including members of royalty and opera singer Beverly Sills (whose childhood nickname coincidentally was "Bubbles"), visited David at Texas Children's and he "served as a kind of tourist attraction for VIPs".


7 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)

After many years, David's situation became unbearable. The small expectations for finding a cure were still the same as a preteen as when he was a baby. Doctors feared that as a teenager he would become even more unpredictable and uncontrollable. The U.S. government spoke about cutting the research funding as it showed no results and there was a growing debate over the ethics of that experiment, with public opinion becoming less supportive of the project. A total of more than $1.3 million was spent on David's care.


8 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)

In 1980, when David was around age 9, his new doctors, Ralph Feigin and William Shearer, suggested placing him on a regime of gamma globulin and antibiotics and removing him from the bubble in the hopes that his immune system had improved, but since that almost certainly would have condemned him to death, his parents refused after consulting with the original three doctors. Montgomery said, "For these many years we had had a success story, and should this happen, this would be the ultimate declaration that it was a failure, that the whole thing was a failure."


9 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)

Three years later, at the advice of the original trio of doctors who had encouraged them to have David in the first place, David's parents decided to allow his medical team to perform an unmatched bone marrow transplant, with marrow donated by his sister Katherine. Attempts to find a matched bone marrow donor since his birth had been unsuccessful, and advances had recently been made in unmatched bone marrow operations. Baylor filmed the operation against David's wishes, and the marrow was given to David through intravenous lines running into the bubble.


10 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)

The 1984 transplant operation went well, and for a few months hope was high that David would be able to leave the bubble. However, a few months after the operation, David became sick for the first time in his life; he started having diarrhea, fever and severe vomiting from intestinal bleeding. These symptoms were so severe that David had to be taken out of the bubble for treatment. In response to a direct question from his father on whether he wished to be taken out of the bubble, David replied, "Daddy, I will agree to anything to feel better." Out of the bubble, he continued to get worse and sank into a coma; his mother was able to touch his skin for the first and last time before he died. He died 15 days later on February 22, 1984 of Burkitt's lymphoma at the age of 12.
Katherine's bone marrow contained traces of a dormant virus, Epstein-Barr, which had been undetectable in the pre-transplant screening. Once inside of David's body, the virus spread and produced hundreds of cancerous tumors, which were revealed in the autopsy.
David had always wanted to try Coca-Cola, after seeing it in many commercials and hearing about it from other children, but the sterilization process required to insert it into the bubble ruined the taste. After he exited the bubble, he requested a Coke but was turned down. His mother said "David had heard the word Coke so often on TV and from other children that he always yearned to try one. It was one of the first things he asked for when he was taken out of his bubble before he died. But the doctors decided he shouldn't have one in his frail condition."



11 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)


12 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)


13 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)


14 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)


15 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)


16 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)


17 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)


18 David Vetter, the Bubble Boy (18 pics)

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№1 Author: jeanbrsc (23 Jun 2010 01:21) Total user comments: 394


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is truth
№2 Author: raiderkane (23 Jun 2010 02:18) Total user comments: 390


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poor kid
№3 Author: adzhoe (23 Jun 2010 02:21) Total user comments: 13449


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What a story
№4 Author: Ty Webb (23 Jun 2010 03:34) Total user comments: 6156


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I hate when kids have to suffer. Life is hard with out any deformities let alone having to be in a bubble 24/7
№5 Author: fuzzb0y (23 Jun 2010 04:07) Total user comments: 69


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i is disappoint
№6 Author: bruce88lee (23 Jun 2010 04:49) Total user comments: 1818


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Did he wanted to go in space. I don't mean that the costume is funny there is a nasa sign on it.
№7 Author: Vinsanity (23 Jun 2010 05:12) Total user comments: 145


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№8 Author: astroboy3000 (23 Jun 2010 05:25) Total user comments: 2543


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this is the saddest shit i've seen
№9 Author: Jimmy Johnson (23 Jun 2010 08:46) Total user comments: 5323


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Who wants to be treated as a science experiment for their entire life?
№10 Author: Jinxaruny (23 Jun 2010 09:03) Total user comments: 10324


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11 I wish this on no one!! Bet he had a heart of gold!
№11 Author: galz (23 Jun 2010 10:27) Total user comments: 2043


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11
№12 Author: motenaidayo (23 Jun 2010 13:03) Total user comments: 886


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№13 Author: Link was here (23 Jun 2010 13:26) Total user comments: 1329


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... and he never tasted Coca-Cola... not even as a last wish... that's just sad! 11
№14 Author: 2fuzzy (23 Jun 2010 13:32) Total user comments: 10400


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11
№15 Author: alpapito (23 Jun 2010 14:24) Total user comments: 97


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weird...
№16 Author: poptart1 (23 Jun 2010 14:38) Total user comments: 70


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:(
№17 Author: peterflynn (23 Jun 2010 17:00) Total user comments: 958


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11 poor lil guy
№18 Author: Nsibai (23 Jun 2010 17:21) Total user comments: 5694


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sorry for those boys...
№19 Author: aks3167 (23 Jun 2010 20:25) Total user comments: 1674


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poor guy
№20 Author: Lu (23 Jun 2010 20:33) Total user comments: 13410


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11
№21 Author: outlaw (23 Jun 2010 22:50) Total user comments: 540


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88 poor kid
№22 Author: fluorescentG (24 Jun 2010 01:13) Total user comments: 3958


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puts things in perspecitive. 05
№23 Author: Louie (24 Jun 2010 05:57) Total user comments: 7887


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№24 Author: OrangeVert (28 Aug 2011 17:55) Total user comments: 1


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Just to keep facts straight, (I also corrected it from Wikipedia where this article was copied) he was not from Shenandoah, Texas. He was born September 21, 1971, at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, TX
№25 Author: Jessie (18 Feb 2013 09:43) Total user comments: 0


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He just wanted to try a dang coke :'(
№26 Author: Bernadette (10 Jun 2013 06:28) Total user comments: 0


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its a sad stoy but the author has a lot of the facts wrong. It is stated that he had an operation in 1984 and months later he seems well and then it goes on to say a few months later he gets sick, and then the author says he dies 22 days later in Feb which is the second month. So either he had the opeation in 1983 or someone did not do their reseach correctly anyways the story is very sad and even thought all life is precious was it really worth keeping him alive to experience a sad life just for their research.
№27 Author: Savir (16 Sep 2013 18:17) Total user comments: 0


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bruce88lee, the NASA sign is , because nasa made him a suit that could provide him a sterile environment on the go !!
it looks just like a space suit and it was attached to a movable support environ ment. He only wore the suit 7 times until he out grew it and even as NASA made him another one , he never used it !!
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