“Miracle” vs Medical Marvel

The South African media is brimming with excitement over the “miracle” of the 3-year-old girl, Pippie Kruger, who has received a massive graft of her own cloned skin, which appears to have been a success.

Doctors at the Garden City Clinic, in Johannesburg, have been treating this little girl ever since she was burnt over 80% of her body on New Years’ Eve – a liquid fire-lighter her father was using exploded, setting Pippie on fire, and leaving her with terrible burn wounds over most of her body.

Since the accident, Pippie has had 45 operations, kidney failure and five heart attacks. She survived – thanks to the wonderful care she received from Doctor Ridwan Mia and his team at the Clinic.

A few square centimetres of healthy skin from her groin (which was protected from the fire by her nappy) was sent to Genzyme, a biotechnical company in Boston. They cloned her skin, growing it in thin sheets. These were flown to South Africa last week and transplanted onto Pippie’s body in a gruelling operation. The little girl has been heavily sedated and immobilised, and tonight some of the bandages were peeled away. The cloned skin remained in place – much to the relief and joy of Pippie’s parents, the medical team, and all who have been following this story.

Dr Mia appeared on TV news tonight, glowing with happiness and relief, and excited to tell the country the fantastic news – and what did the interviewer say?

“It’s a miracle!”

Well no, it’s not.

It’s the result of medical science. Doctors, clinic, biotechnology company, researchers…. and Pippie’s healthy body (before the accident)… are responsible for the success of this ground breaking surgery. Doctor Mia and his team displayed great strength, skill and determination.

There is no need to assume a god or gods had any hand in it. If a god or the gods, assuming they exist, were in the slightest bit interested, wouldn’t he/they have prevented the fire-lighter from exploding? Wouldn’t he/they have taken steps to ensure the child was not burnt over 80% of her little body?

And, it’s no good saying Pippie’s pain, the suffering she has endured and will surely endure for years to come, is all part of some divine plan. What plan could possibly justify doing such a terrible thing to a totally innocent child and her parents?

All credit should go to the medical team, Doctor Mia, the Garden City Clinic, Pippie’s parents, and to Genzyme – it is an insult to imply that a supernatural “miracle” is responsible for saving this child’s life!

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