During the course of our class we talked about the ways in which Death was seen in the Digital Age, how people reacted to it, and how it was portrayed in novels. However, one subject that we never discussed in depth is the attempt to cheat death in this innovative digital age. It seems that now more than ever we have the technology , or at least think we do, to cheat our eventual fate and add a few more years to our timeline. This is an area that the Health Nucleus of San Diego thinks they can thrive in.
The Nucleus, in association with Human Longevity Inc. is offering a check up that promises to cheat premature death in the coming years. The check up consists of an initial eight hours of screening for diseases, followed up with a routine genome sequencing procedure and in-depth blood analysis. These tests are done in order to check for any chemicals or pre-existing conditions in the person’s genes. Through these processes, diseases that may cause health problems are easily found and treatment begins. The company’s founder, Dr. Craig Venter claims that they have an algorithm that can predict alzheimer’s disease twenty years early. More than five hundred people have signed up, but not everyone is a believer of the program. Dr. Rita Redberg believes attesting healthy patients is not an ethical venture.She believes that this testing is taking advantage of people’s constant worries concerning death.
I personally think that this venture is highly interesting, although I do not agree with its end goal. If this corporation truly has found a method to detect Alzheimer’s Disease early, then that is a HUGE medical development. This gives me hope that one day we may find cures for cancer and other terminal illnesses. On the other hand, I do not agree with the principle of people extending their lives on this planet any longer than is meant to be. I personally think that everything happens for a reason, but going out of your way to actively cheat death is playing God , if you believe that he exists. What is the benefit of living longer? Death is a very scary thing to process, but it happens to everyone. We all have a certain expiration date, and we all end up in the same state. What is the point of delaying that process a few years? I’m not sure I would be willing to hand over exhorbitant $25,000 fee.
I do question the ulterior motives of the company, sharing the feelings that Dr. Redberg states. This program seems like a way to make money off of those who are obsessed with death, and will do anything to make sure they don’t die. I’m sure if you’re one of those people who is costly worrying about dying and someone offers you a scientific way to live longer, this choice is an easy one. I also believe that this program could take advantage of hypochondriacs. Once again, people who worry about death are most likely to buy into this program. I can imagine a scenario where someone is told that they will eventually have a death causing disease that has no cure. This person has just spent a fourth of one-hundred thousand dollars to be told that they will, and that there is no way to cure their disease. In some ways, this in-depth screening is not equal for all.
I do wonder what this check up will mean for the future of medicine and technology. The company has stated that they will attempt a lower cost exam during a trial run to see the results. Will this mean that these check up could eventually lead science towards finding a solution to previously deathly illnesses. Or will this development ensure that high quality health coverage is limited inly to those who can afford it? Only the future can tell.