Push Girls Episode 6: Stem Cell Debate

The Push Girls debate stem cell research. What's your opinion?

Push Girls Episode 6: Stem Cell Debate

Everyone is fired up and ready to speak her mind on this week’s episode of Push Girls. The reason? The debate of stem cell research. Young Chelsie, who is just two years into her spinal cord injury, still is hopeful and passionate to walk again. When she mentions a surgery using stem cells is available in Panama, all the girls have something to say about it. Here’s the run down:

Push Girls AngelaAngela is FOR stem cell research and treatment. She tells the story of how she flew to Portugal for a similar surgery within the first five years of her injury. Apparently, as she says, the doctors used adult stem cells from the inside of her nose and injected them into her spinal cord injury area.  From it, she thinks she gained more function in her arms and some sensation in her lower body (although there’s no Angela with surgery and Angela with no surgery experiment to be sure). If she could have another successful injection of embryonic stem cells to the site, she would, if even just for the return of her hand dexterity.

Push Girls Auti

Auti is AGAINST embryonic stem cell research and treatment. She believes embryonic stem cell use for treatment is morally wrong, and claims that, even if it cured her paralysis so she could dance again, she wouldn’t have the procedure done. REMINDER: this is also the woman who admitted to previously smoking crack cocaine and having an abortion. AN ABORTION.

Push Girls Tiphany

Tiphany is FOR embryonic stem cell research and treatment. For once Tiphany and I are on the same page. “I want to get up and run around and jump,” she says. “I don’t want to sit forever… but do I accept [sitting] for now? Yeah, of course.”

Push Girls Mia

Mia is FOR sitting in her chair forever. Strangely enough, Mia admits that she’s completely content and “happy” with her life as is and wouldn’t want to change a thing, even if a cure was available. She doesn’t have any ethical issues with using stem cells it seems. She just doesn’t feel walking would give her a better life. Perhaps she just doesn’t like change, which I can kind of understand. After spending over a decade adjusting to being paralyzed, walking again would cause a lot of new re-adjustments… but I think I’d still give it a go. In fact, I know I would.

Chelsie Push Girls

Chelsie is FOR whatever it takes to get her walking again. Even though she’s newest to the paralyzed group, she’s tired of “inspiring others” and “not getting benefitted at all.” Like the sweet, naïve teenager that she appears to be, Chelsie doesn’t want to give up her days training in rehab, preparing for the day when she “will” walk again, even if it includes surgery. I only hope she isn’t disappointed if that day never comes.

Over all, this week’s episode of Push Girls was really informative and entertaining. Finally we’re getting in to some real issues and content, like Mia confronting her fear of swimming. As a paralyzed person myself, I still cringe at some of the possible misconceptions being promoted in the show. If allowable for me to make some clarifications, this is what I’d like to add:

  • Showing Chelsie standing up right and using a walker is inspiring but also a little misleading. She’s using her upper body strength and the help from her trainer to maneuver her body to appear as if she’s walking, but her leg muscles are not doing the work. Though the exercise is great for body maintenance and keeping bone strength, it does not encourage her nerves and synapses to repair, meaning the exercise will not “fix” her, no matter how many times she does it.
  • There is no cure for paralysis, yet. Yes, there is research and human stem cell procedures happening all over the world but none have been 100% successful… yet. Like my mom has always said, “I wouldn’t worry too much about it, Jana. When there is a cure for paralysis, it will not be a secret. Every person and headline news program will be talking about it.”
  • People that walk after paralysis are lucky, not miraculous. Paralyzed people aren’t sitting in chairs for lack of trying. I can promise you every person ever paralyzed does everything they can to walk again, including having perseverance and working hard. Those that do eventually walk again, more than likely, simply didn’t injure their spinal cords as severely as others. After all, it takes a year or two for the spinal cord swelling to go down after an injury, and sometimes it’s the swelling that causes the paralysis initially.
  • For those who feel nervous about using embryonic stem cells for research, you should know that the embryonic stem cells used in research are left over conception vials from those who use in vitro fertilization. Regardless if used or not, the extra embryonic cells are needed for precautions. If not used for research, the leftovers stem cells are discarded into the trash. The TRASH. You can feel comfortable knowing no lives are ever created for the sole purpose of destruction for research.
  • Angela is right when she says there is a whole world of difference between being a paraplegic and a quadriplegic. At one time or another, every person has probably imagined a world without using his or her legs. Rarely does someone think about life without full use of his or her hands and fingers, never mind both. Having the use of your hands is the difference between being fully independent (para) and fully dependent (quad). If stem cell injections could help a quadriplegic gain function to the level of a paraplegic, like Dr. Oswald Steward from the Irvine-Reeve Research Center says, it’s a very exciting time for paralyzed people—the regaining of more independence is on the way.

What are your thoughts on stem cell research?



  • Kathy

    good food for thought, jana. and good common sense about the differences in types of injury and the resulting recoveries. i can’t imagine any person more hardworking and motivated than someone recovering from paralysis. come to think of it, a person who has gone through that should make an excellent employee (unless they are as totally self-absorbed as this crew is made out to be).
    i also can’t think of anybody besides you whose comments could add so much substance to this show. they should have you direct a discussion after each episode.

  • Gerri

    I didn’t see the show, but appreciate Jana Waring’s insights. The fact that she is a quadriplegic gives me a comfort level that her review is on spot. You go, girl