As the United States Senate prepared to vote on the stem cell research bill on Tuesday, July 18, Josh Basile and his family opened their home to U.S. Rep. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Drs. Martin Oudega and Visar Belegu, both of whom are leading stem cell scientists who work at the Kennedy-Kreiger Institute in Baltimore. Cardin, who has been a long-time proponent of stem cell research, urged the Senate to pass the bill and the House to override President George W. Bush’s promised veto.
"This is about preserving life. We know the promise of embryonic research. These embryos would be destroyed and it’s appropriate that stem cell research move forward. It’s people’s lives. This vote in the Senate is critically important to Josh. It is not about your dogmatic views, it is about what is the right interest of America and keeping our health care system at the top of the world," Cardin said.
Basile, whose fifth cervical was shattered in a bodysurfing accident two years ago, talked about his accident, his injury and his life as a quadriplegic. He too urged the Congress to pass the bill.
"When it comes to stem cell research, I just want it to have a chance. If we can give stem cell research a chance to even pursue the dream of maybe being able to recover and that chance will give me a chance to live a lifestyle that right now I am not going to be able to live without the possibilities of stem cell research gone forward," Basile said.
Basile, who commuted two and a half hour to Kennedy-Kreiger from June 2005 to February 2006 five days a week, now does his exercise therapy program in the comfort of his basement. The personalized gym, which Cardin, Oudega, and Belegu toured with Basile, cuts out the travel time to Baltimore, and allows Basile spend more time running his foundation, Determined2Heal, and interning with Cardin.
Despite Bush’s veto of the bill and the House’s inability to override the veto, Basile remains optimistic for the future of stem cell research. However, he, like Cardin, believes that the lack of federal support will stymie cutting-edge research in the United States and will push scientists to do research outside the U.S. in countries like the United Kingdom and China that do provide support.