Doctors Mystified, Scientists Baffled, Kid Doing Okay!

There’s a phrase that gets tossed around a lot in the media, one that skeptics and scientists love to hate (or perhaps, hate to love) – “scientists baffled.”

This is a running gag for The SGU crowd and Phil Plait, amongst others. It’s a bit of a tube-meme and even has it’s own website.

So when one of our “local” newrags, The Rankin Ledger (owned by the Clarion Ledger, owned by mega-news-corp Gannett), had a “medical miracle” story, I was reallllly hoping to see “doctors baffled.” No such luck, but I got “mystifies doctors,” though. Not quite the same, but the feeling is still there.

I am of course not trying to make light of the situation the kid is in. Obviously, “child stays within odds and gets good medical attention, survives” is not an attention-grabbing headline, but it is very much more in line with the truth. I somehow doubt the doctors at Arkansas Children’s Hospital are actually “mystified,” they likely understand that not knowing why something happened is not the same as a mystical violation of natural law. The disorder he is suffering from, Noncompaction Cardiomyopathy, is not especially well studied, and fairly rare. In such a case, “doctors baffled” is a good thing for the advancement of medical knowledge, if not so much so for the patient.

Christopher Pena (the child in question) is in one of the best hospitals in the nation and has a caring family. We should all be so fortunate.

Remember, just because something isn’t a miracle doesn’t mean it can’t inspire you. A story with insight into the doctors, techniques, equipment, and science behind the survival of a kid like Christopher – that would take something that the Rankin Ledger doesn’t have, and something that a guy behind a keyboard using google on his day off doesn’t really have access to, either.


2 responses to “Doctors Mystified, Scientists Baffled, Kid Doing Okay!

  1. I am the mother of “this child in question”. I am just finding this, but I am not sure I concur with you. I agree that his dx is extremely rare, thus the future is very unknown. Sorry to break it to you though, Arkansas had NOTHING to do with his turn around. This mom refused to leave my child classified as a hospice patient and researched meds that he could respond to. And let me make this next statement quite clear, that was not done without the faith in God and His will!!!! Do not take that away from this story! He gets all honor glory and praise, not some knife happy doctors who only wanted another transplant under their belt. They gave up on him. Batson is a great place also, but they gave up on him. MOM, DAD, Christopher and GOD did NOT. and BTW, his own cardiologist who I have a deep respect for also admits that he doesn’t have the awnsers as to why. God Bless, and I hope I clarified your mistaken assumptions.

  2. jacksonskepticalsociety

    Ms. Pena;

    I’m very glad Christopher has such a determined mother. Your son is beating the odds and I’m happy that his family did not give up on him even when others had.

    Your faith no doubt helped you through this, but I think it is irresponsible of a newspaper to put too much of a focus on mystery and miracle. Rather, I think that a much more compelling story is the one behind the hard work of an advocate such as yourself and the dedicated researchers who are contributing to the research done on this disease.

    Your family deserves more praise than that article gave – praise I’ve heard on Christophers websites. I’d love to hear more about what you and your family have done for Christopher – I’ve seen the wonderful stories of community support on his website. I think that this is more of an insight as to his defiance of the odds than is a story of mystified doctors.

    Families such as your own are rare indeed and I hope you all the best treatment in the future.

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