The Heartbreaking True Of Story Of What Happened To The “Bubble Boy”
When David Vetter was born by caesarian section at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston on September 21, 1971, doctors knew that his life was at risk. The danger was so severe, in fact, that the medics had only seconds to act.
The tiny baby was immediately transferred to a completely sterile environment. That was how the child who was to become known as “the boy in the bubble” entered what for him was an intensely hostile world. Because of the genetic condition he was born with, the sterile cocoon that he was moved to was the only safe place for him to be.
David’s parents, David Vetter, Jr. and Carol Vetter, had already experienced tragedy. Some 16 months before the birth of David, they’d had another son, their first, David Joseph Vetter, III. His short life had lasted only seven months before his death in November 1970. Moreover, the Vetters and their doctors knew that their second son had a 50-50 chance of being born with the very condition that had killed their first son.
That condition is called severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). It’s a genetic disorder that virtually wipes out the body’s immune system. As a result, any infection could prove to be fatal. Germs and bacteria that the vast majority of us would be unaffected by can lead a SCID sufferer to die.
The type of SCID that killed the younger David is caused by a mutation in the X chromosome, and the condition only effects male children, although women can carry and pass on the defect. It was soon established that the younger David did in fact have SCID.