David Phillip Vetter was a boy from Shenandoah, Texas, United States who suffered from a rare genetic disease now known as severe combined immune deficiency syndrome (SCID). Forced to live in a sterile environment, he became popular with the media as the boy in the plastic bubble.
David's parents first son died seven months after birth. Doctors said that the baby boy had been born with a defective thymus, a gland which is important in the functioning of the immune system, due to a genetic condition, SCID. Each further son the couple might conceive would have a 50% chance of inheriting the same condition. The doctors from Baylor College of Medicine told the Vetters that if they had another child with SCID, the child could be placed in a sterile isolator until a bone marrow transplant could be performed, using the older sister, Katherine, as a donor.
When a United Press International photographer arrived to document David's first venture into his new playroom, David refused to go into the new addition to his bubble. David's mother called in Mary Murphy, a woman working on her doctorate in psychology and who had met David once before. Murphy convinced David to go into the playroom section to get a better glimpse of a goldfish she held, and she was then invited back for therapy sessions with David.
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