Sunday, August 22, 2010
By Toni L. Wood
I read with dismay the National Institute of Health's (NIH) current decision published in (the Aug. 10) Albuquerque Journal to continue to use the Alamogordo chimpanzees in medical research.
I have some personal history with this issue. My father was a histotechnologist. He worked for hospitals, national laboratories and for one short time at the Coulston Foundation — read research lab — in Alamogordo.
He prepared microscopic slides from tissues gathered at autopsies; in animal research, these are called necropsies.
The slides are then studied to attempt to trace back what contributed to the death — or "termination" — of the animal and what could be learned.
In chimpanzees, what were the results of experimentation from chemicals, burns, gunshot wounds, trauma, radiation and drug studies?
It was a gruesome task, but he did so because he believed it would contribute to the greater good. Healing could come from this. And he was a man trying to provide for his family.
As time went on he no longer believed that experimentation on animals, including those experiments performed on chimpanzees and primates, showed results.
He would state that IF there was some benefit, some result that was useful, then perhaps, perhaps, the suffering and the treatment these intelligent beings endured could be valid and understood. But he did not find this to be true.
I can recall his frustration, exasperation and sadness because of the experimentation on the Alamogordo chimpanzees.
He said the experiments were repeated and repeated without resolution to the questions asked and with no proven medical benefit.
In addition, much of the "necessary data" collected was never used. Put aside or more often disposed of because it was a repetition of what already had been studied.
Isn't that one of the definitions of insanity? Doing something over and over again hoping for differing results?
My father would come home in frustration, and in tears, because of the suffering he witnessed due to the endless painful experimentation on these chimpanzees.
He quit his position in protest of the treatment of these beings.
My father has long since passed away. However, he took his opportunity to act, to make a humane moral decision, although silent to most.
All of us, now, we have an opportunity to act as well. To act in a responsible, humane and fiscally sound manner. We can ask NIH to permanently retire these chimpanzees from research.
Funding is already available for these animals to be retired and to be left in peace for their remaining lives.
Federal money is set aside via the NIH for retirement of these chimpanzees. All the National Institute of Health needs to do is declare that these chimpanzees are permanently retired for this to occur.
Much needed jobs will continue in Alamogordo. The chimps can rest.
Please, it is time for us to stand up and support the Alamogordo chimpanzees and to save New Mexico jobs. It is the right this to do.
Posted with permission from the Albuquerque Publishing Company.