William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Wednesday, 26, November, 2008

You Gotta Be Kidding

Filed under: Social Commentary,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 15:52

According to THIS report in the National Post, students in Carelton College in Ontario have decided to discontinue the tradition of raising money for Cystic Fibrosis research.  Evidently the disease is not “inclusive” enough.   According to the story

Cystic fibrosis “has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men” said the motion read Monday night to student councillors, who voted almost unanimously in favour of it.

I’m really not sure what their point is. Not all diseases affect everyone equally. The autoimmune diseases, for example, primarily affect women. Tay-Sachs disease primarily affects Ashkenazi Jews and French Canadians. Even hypertension and heart disease, widespread as they are, affect African-Americans more severely than whites. So is it that Cystic Fibrosis discriminates? It doesn’t affect a wide enough spectrum of people? So therefore we should stop funding breast cancer research because it doesn’t affect enough men?

There’s logic there, but I don’t think there is any thinking to accompany it. There is discrimination in the world, but diseases afflict the people whom they afflict.  The way the article is written it almost seems as if the author is implying (or is claiming the students are implying) that diseases of white males aren’t worthy of study or treatment.  It is hard to tell from this piece of fluff, but if the worth interpretation is correct, that makes me profoundly uncomfortable.

lung052This is a lung with bronchiectasis, due to cystic fibrosis (image from WebPath)  In cystic fibrosis, which is common amongst whites; but there is no gender predominance, there is a mutation in a protein that transports chloride ions.  Secretions are thick and viscous, and these individuals have problems digesting fat (the full name of the disease is cystic fibrosis of the pancreas).  They have recurrent pulmonary infections due to stasis of secretions and bacterial overgrowth.  These abscesses destroy lung tissue as you can see in the middle lobe of this lung here.  Twenty years ago, people with CF rarely made it out of their teens.  Now, they are living into their fourth decade.

People with cystic fibrosis suffer early mortality and significant morbitity in their lives. Tremendous strides have been made in treatment of the disease, and some gene therapies look promising. I can understand wanting to direct where your donations go, and making sure you get the most mileage out of your charitable giving. There are plenty of diseases that affect different populations differently, I don’t think pulling back on funding is the way to go.

1 Comment »

  1. Yep – it’s sad isn’t it.

    Although in an interview the students deny that is the reason. They say they simply wanted to change charities. When pressed to name the new charity, they refused.

    I feel terrible for the people at CF. Donations are hard earned during these times. Losing an enthusiastic campaign run by youth is a great loss for them.

    Comment by Laurie Pringle — Thursday, 27, November, 2008 @ 00:31 | Reply

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