Reality is chronic diseases, illnesses and conditions impact each and every one of us. The harsh but unfortunate truth is not if but when you or someone you love will be impacted by that fate. For my family, that day became a reality when our newborn daughter was diagnosed with a fatal immunodeficiency disease that would only give her a couple of years to live.
In 2012, when my daughter Evangelina, “Evie,” was just 6 weeks old, she was diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). More commonly known as “bubble baby” disease, the rare genetic disorder left her at risk of death from any infection, even a diaper rash or the common cold. Born alongside a healthy twin, we were told Evie would likely not make it to her 2nd birthday.
However, thanks to Proposition 71 in 2004, California voters’ initial investment in stem cell research and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), a groundbreaking treatment was discovered at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) that saved my daughter’s life and 49 other babies born with the same rare disease—giving them all functioning immune systems and a second chance to live a long, healthy life.
Californians this November have an opportunity to keep us on track of continuing to find treatments and cures for the dozens of deadly diseases and illnesses that affect millions every year. With a “yes” vote on Proposition 14, we have the opportunity to continue providing research and therapy development for more than 75 chronic diseases and conditions, including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, SCID and COVID-19.
Since 2004, CIRM has made incredible progress, which has led to more than 90 clinical trials, two FDA-approved cancer treatments and nine new treatments that have earned FDA fast-track status. While most of the 90-plus clinical trials are still underway, many lives have already been saved or improved. We have helped patients with type-1 diabetes start to produce their own insulin, blind patients begin to regain their eyesight and quadriplegics recover upper-body function.
The reality is California is the only state with the infrastructure and intellectual capital to advance these clinical trials and medical discoveries through to FDA-approved treatments. There is no other entity—private or public—that can take it from here and to the scale that we as a state can. We’ve seen time and time again instances where the federal government has been inconsistent when it comes to funding breakthrough stem cell research.
If Californians do not pass Proposition 14, the hope of discovering more cures like the one that saved Evie’s life will be gone. Investing in the health of our loved ones, and ourselves, is one of the most important things we can do today. Proposition 14 will work to end this suffering for the millions of Californians and their families impacted by chronic diseases and condition—how can we not support that?
I’ve seen firsthand the possible treatments and lifesaving cures that Proposition 14 could bring to your life or the life of someone you love. So, join me and the growing coalition of more than 100 patient advocacy organizations; hundreds of leading scientists and physicians, Nobel Prize winners, senior elected officials and leaders; the University of California and many, many more in voting “yes” on Proposition 14.