Sect’s promise of limbs irks victim’s supporters

Clonaid president Dr. Brigitte Boisselier plans to use her so-called human cloning technique to “generate new arms” for Ali Abbas, a young Iraqi orphan mutilated by a bomb in Iraq. This announcement, in a news release issued by the Raelians Sept. 11, shocked and troubled representatives of Ali Abbas.

They say neither Boisselier nor any other Raelian has ever contacted the young Iraqi or his representatives.

The organization that brought the 13-year-old boy to London, England, for treatment calls it pure invention and a shameful attempt to cash in on Ali’s story.

“Ali will be saddened to see people who have never helped him use his name and his tragedy for promotional purposes,” said Diana Morgan, spokesperson of the Limbless Association.

“Ali will soon receive his new artificial limbs,” she added. “Physically, he is doing well and his morale is good.”

The Iraqi teenager made front page news throughout the world last April. He lost both of his arms when the Americans bombed Baghdad and his parents and brother were killed.

Lying on a stretcher in a makeshift hospital, he touched many hearts when he declared that he wanted the doctors to give him a new pair of arms or he would commit suicide.

The teenager was transferred to Kuwait, then to England, where he will receive artificial limbs valued at $30,000 each.

Another person unhappy with the Raelians’ statement is Dr. Catherine Tsilfidis of the University of Ottawa, an expert in the field of stem cells.

Her study on newts and their ability to regenerate limbs has won her recognition.

The Raelians’ news release says Boisselier and her team studied Tsilfidis’s research report with care.

“Impossible,” said Tsilfidis, astonished to see her name used.

“We have not yet published the results of our research. If Brigitte Boisselier implies that we co-operated with her, it is not true.”

Two other reputable scientists, Ellen Heber-Katz and Mark Keating, are also mentioned in the news release.

Heber-Katz discovered mice suffering from lupus had the capacity to regenerate amputated tissue, but is far from explaining or controlling this phenomenon.

Contacted in Philadelphia, Heber-Katz said the Raelians’ claims are “totally ridiculous.”

“I have never spoken to these people. I have never had any dealings with them,” she said.

Biologist Mark Keating, based in Boston, is of the same opinion.

“It is highly probable that one day we will succeed in regenerating human limbs, but we’ve got a long way to go,” he said.

“The day we succeed, the technique will rest on science and not on confabulations about extraterrestrials.”

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The London Free Press, Canada
Oct. 8, 2003

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday October 13, 2003.
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