Medicine: Help From The Unborn Fetal-cell

Surgery raises hopes -- and issues

In a widely heralded mercy mission after the nuclear-plant disaster in Chernobyl last spring, Dr. Robert Gale of UCLA and three colleagues flew to the Soviet Union and worked tirelessly to save the radiation victims. Virtually ignored in the reports from the scene was the fact that Soviet physicians and Gale tried a controversial new technique on six of the most severely irradiated Chernobyl workers: fetal-cell surgery. In a desperate attempt to reconstitute the blood-forming tissues of these victims, the doctors transplanted liver cells from human fetuses aborted in the first months of pregnancy.

Those efforts were in vain; all six...

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