[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
January 4, 1985

David the 'Bubble Boy' and the Boundaries of the Human

JAMA. 1985;253(1):74-76. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350250082028

NOW that some time has passed since the much-publicized death in Houston of David, the boy in the bubble, it is perhaps appropriate to begin public discussion of the significance of David's life and possible implications his life may have for the future. Except for Allan J. Hamilton's editorial in Newsweek, March 26,I am not aware that any of the media has broached or even hinted at the profound and disturbing ethical and humanitarian issues that David's life raises. There is some evidence that David's very existence presents the specter of a virtually autonomous medical technocracy at work in our society, a technocracy that is at best only dimly aware of the subtle and delicate boundaries of the human.

Let me say from the outset that I have had personal interest in and knowledge of this case from the beginning. As director of Clinical Pastoral Education at St Luke's Episcopal/Texas