I’ve been following the story of Timothy Brown, the man who is the first person on record to be rid of HIV. This is due to an experimental stem cell therapy procedure performed by an unknown doctor, Gero Hütter.
No one’s crying “cure” just yet, and I’ll let you read the story for yourself, but it is a major, major breakthrough in a movement that had just about run out of ideas. The astounding thing to me, out of all of this, is how long it took for anyone to pay attention to Hütter’s findings. The medical community had given up on the idea of finding a cure awhile ago, and if there was going to be any breakthrough it was supposed to come from a famous or well-established member of its ranks. But a young doctor that no one had ever heard of made a truly innovative discovery and it was all but overlooked completely. The reaction was that it couldn’t be true, that door was closed, this was just some flunky with a fluke. I am agape as I think of how an entire community of people, who had just resigned themselves to a doomed future with something as pervasive as AIDS, had such a hard time accepting the possibility of hope. They had decided it was impossible; it was never going to happen.
It makes me think of a Lewis Carroll quote I have framed next to my desk: “‘There is no use trying,’ said Alice, ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’ ‘I dare say you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'”