Donna Dickenson, author of Me Medicine vs. We Medicine, Takes the Page 99 Test

“We risk losing sight of the common good in biotechnology—what I call ‘We Medicine’—in our haste to embrace personalized healthcare.”–Donna DickensonDonna Dickenson, Me Medicine vs. We Medicine

The Page 99 Test asks authors to turn to page 99 in their books and explain how the page fits in with the larger aspects of their book. Recently, Donna Dickenson, author of Me Medicine vs. We Medicine: Reclaiming Biotechnology for the Common Good , took part and discussed the page’s description of private umbilical private banking. As she explains, it is a process in which “a portion of the blood that would normally flow from the placenta to the baby is diverted during delivery … and stored—at a charge– as a private ‘spare parts kit’ for the child’s later use, if stem cell technologies ever get to that point.”

The procedure in many ways underscores how “personalized” medical procedures (Me Medicine) can sometimes undermine public health (We Medicine). Dickenson explains the possible drawback for “We Medicine” caused by umbilical private banking: “But that means that public cord blood banks, open to all regardless of ability to pay, lose out on that contribution—and the procedure may increase the risk of jaundice or anemia for the baby. It’s an emblematic example of the potential harms in individualized medicine.”

While page 99’s description of umbilical banking offers a fairly detailed description of a medical procedure it provides an important factual and scientific base to allow readers and society to think about Dickenson’s larger argument, which she explains:

We risk losing sight of the common good in biotechnology—what I call “We Medicine”—in our haste to embrace personalized healthcare. To set this debate in a wider political and economic context, I examine four possible reasons for the rise of Me Medicine: a sense of threat, the rise of narcissism, corporate interests backed by neo-liberal government policy, and the sacredness of personal choice.

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