Was It Worth It? The True Story of David the Bubble Boy by Mary Ada Murphy
September 21, 1971 - February 22, 1984
David Phillip Vetter was a boy from Shenandoah, Texas, United States who suffered from a rare genetic disease now known as severe combined immune deficiency syndrome (SCID). Forced to live in a sterile environment, he became popular with the media as the boy in the plastic bubble. He spent most of his life inside a special bubble-like structure at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. He died in 1984, at the age of 12, after a bone marrow transplant from his sister.
The Rev. Raymond Lawrence, the chaplain of the hospital at that time, said of the situation: "The great scandal of the Bubble Boy was that he was conceived for the bubble. The team that did this didn't think through this very well. They didn't consider what would happen if they didn't find an immediate cure. They operated on the assumption that you could live to be 80 years old in a bubble, and that would be unfortunate but okay." Lawrence says that the original three doctors encouraged David's parents to conceive David so that they could have a test subject for studies, a charge which is denied by the three involved doctors.
The Rest of the Story
Baylor Child Psychologist Mary Ada Murphy worked with David for many years, and eventually, before his death, David asked her to write a book about his story, to tell the world. In 1995, she was poised to publish her book, "Was It Worth It? The True Story of David the Bubble Boy," with a now-defunct company called WRS Publishing in Texas. David's parents and their attorneys blocked the publication of the book, and it has never seen the light of day -- Until now.
This site has been established to provide information and access to the manuscript Mary Murphy wrote and intended to publish. The goal of this venture is to provide insight into a side of the story of David Vetter that has never been heard. There is no intention of slandering or defaming David's family or his memory. We hope that readers can draw their own conclusions from the sources that are presented here.
There is little chance of verifying much of the information in this book -- Mary Murphy and David are both deceased. The document is, in essence, a "found object;" like the Rosetta Stone or a single Dead Sea Scroll, it is can only be viewed as a stand-alone work. Keep in mind that this is a "rough draft," as no known edited version survives. It could have used the services of an editor, but without the ability to work with the author to seek clarification or first-hand information, any edits made now would be speculative and would take away from the value of the work as it exists. It is presented as-is, without any attempt made to correct anything except blatantly obvious spelling or grammatical errors.
Hopefully, what information it does provide can be seen as an interesting look into a friendship between the two individuals -- because, as David's mother is quoted as saying in Chapter 23: "My son was special because he made the people important to him believe they were the most special one in his life. What you are writing will be the truth for you, but not necessarily the truth for how he was with me or others." This document serves as an historical reminder of the "truth" as seen by Mary Ada Murphy.
Here is the first chapter from the original rough draft of the manuscript that was used to create the book. Until recently, the entire book was available for free at this site. Rising costs associated with maintaining the site caused a decision to publish it as a Kindle book at the lowest price that would cover the costs of web hosting and related domain name fees. This site promotes David's life and story, and the book revenues allow it to continue to do so.
Available on Amazon Kindle for $2.99!
Transcript of 2/26/1975 Meeting Discussing Ethical Implications of David's Treatment -- 23 pages, PDF Format
This is a copy of the original transcript of a seminar, "Ethical Issues in Gnotobiology (the case of Baby David)," held on 2/26/1975. The Rev. Raymond J. Lawrence, Director of Clinical Pastoral Education at St. Luke's Episcopal and Texas Children's Hospital, was the Case Conference Organizer and Chair. Rev. Joseph Fletcher, Professor of Ethics at University of Virginia Medical School and Dr. Raphael Wilson were in attendance and are included in this transcript. Also included in this transcript are Robert Main, Dr. John Montgomery, Murdina Desmond, Buford Nichols, Barry Molish, and others. This transcript was produced from the original tape recording of the seminar, which is kept "in a locked closet in the Public Relations Department of Texas Children's Hospital."
Letter from David's Parents, Dated 3/11/95, to WRS Publishing -- 28 pages, PDF format
In this letter, David's parents ask WRS to reconsider publishing Mary Murphy's book, and make a number of claims against what Mary has written, calling it "slanderous, etc." This letter and the legal action it threatened effectively destroyed plans to release "Was It Worth It?"
Transcript of the 2006 PBS "American Experience" Special on David -- External link to PBS.org
This is a transcript of a television special about David produced in 2006 by PBS. It includes interviews with David's parents, doctors, and others.
So why the background color? Purple was David's favorite.
If you found this interesting, please consider donating to "David's Dream Run," the official charity in memory of David.
copyright (c) 2011