Jewish World Review July 7, 2014 / 9 Tammuz, 5774
American Innovation --- For Export Only
By Mark Steyn
JewishWorldReview.com | The Toronto Star has one of those heartwarming miracle-operation hospital stories that newspapers run from time to time, whose meaning for American readers is something else entirely.
A 33-year-old Oklahoma man called Jon David Sacker (right) urgently needed a double-lung transplant after his body rejected the ones he'd received two years ago. So he went to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, but was too weak to undergo the operation.
The only possibility of saving him was something called the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System, which would stabilize his condition and buy time for the body to re-strengthen and for new lungs to be found.
There was no Hemolung RAS at UPMC, so they dialed around and found one at Novus Medical in Oakville, which is on Lake Ontario just south of Toronto. Murray Beaton of Novus agreed to loan the Hemolung to UPMC, and, given the urgency, offered to shorten the distance by driving down the Queen Elizabeth Way to meet the Pittsburgh guys in the wee small hours at a crossroads at Fort Erie, just across the Niagara River from Buffalo.
Now, if you're a patriotic American on the eve of Independence Day you're surely wondering: why the hell do we need to borrow state-of-the-art medical equipment from some cockamamie town in Canada no one's ever heard of?
But wait, it gets better: The Hemolung RAS was actually invented in Pittsburgh by a UPMC doctor and developed and sold by a Pittsburgh company founded by UPMC doctors. So why are there no Hemolungs in Pittsburgh? The Toronto Star explains:
Ah. So an American invention is already being used to save lives in Canada and Switzerland and Belgium and Denmark and Germany ...but has not been approved for use in America.
That presented certain challenges with Homeland Security:
Yeah, well, good luck with that. Eventually, Mr DeComo decided to try a different approach:
"That machine is a lifesaver," says the patient. Yes, it's American innovation saving lives everywhere else around the developed world - except America.
They made it back to Pittsburgh by 8am, inserted the Hemolung into Jon David Sacker, and 20 days later he was strong enough for his new lungs.
Nevertheless: they were lucky. That CBP officer at the border, where they're a highly variable crowd, could have been far more obstructive, and in the middle of the night I wouldn't want to try getting hold of anyone senior enough to overrule him. Additionally, Mr Sacker's doctors were performing an operation that, while legal in Canada, Britain, France, Spain, Norway, Greece, etc, is illegal in the United States:
Much of American life seems to be seizing up, its lungs in as bad shape as Mr Sacker's, and with no Respiratory Assist System in sight. Powerline is currently examining both the administrative state and many so-called libertarians' indifference to rule by an unaccountable, permanent, hyper-regulatory bureaucracy. At the sharp end of this micro-tyranny, as I say above, "people die - non-stop". Under FDA rules, Mr Sacker is supposed to be dead. He is alive because Messrs DeComo, Bermudez, Crespo and others decided to assert their - what's the word? - independence.
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© 2014, Mark Steyn Enterprises (US) Inc