Welcome to N. N. Light’s Interview Corner. Today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to Don C. Reed. A prolific writer and stem cell research advocate, Don’s a fascinating man. He agreed to sit down with me for an in-depth interview. We know you’ll learn a lot, as we sure did. Take it away, Don:
Q: What’s your writing process?
My writing process is simple: read a lot on whatever subject I am writing about, sleep on it, get up, drink some coffee, and start writing.
Q: Have any writing habits you’d like to share?
One odd writing habit is to carry around notes for the subject and read them at every opportunity, doing situps at the gym, or standing in line at the bank. This “pre-writing” stuffs the subconscious with material, so I am ready when it is time to shape thoughts into ink.
Q: Which authors have inspired you?
Authors who inspired me were: Jack Schaefer for the emotional clarity and action of SHANE; Louis L’Amour for his amazing discipline to produce such a mass of good entertainment; Edgar Rice Burroughs for the rip-roaring excitement (and wit) of TARZAN; Lee Child for the JACK REACHER series, accurate fight scenes; L.Frank Baum for the kindness and strong feminine heroes of the OZ series; Ernest Grahame for the gentle humor and beautiful descriptions of nature in the immortal classic WIND IN THE WILLOWS, which I read once a year to remind myself what great writing is about.
Q: What do you consider your best accomplishment?
My best accomplishment was writing 535 individual (non-computerized) letters to Congress, plus all California legislators, one of which led to the establishment of the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act of 1999, which raised $15 million in California research funding, while attracting $87 million in additional grants from the National Institutes of Health.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? What about any marketing advice?
Best advice for aspiring authors is just to write every day. If you do, you are a writer; if not, not.
For marketing, keep on keeping on. I have never known what works, except what blind and deaf Helen Keller advised: “Nothing happens without optimism and persistence”. Do something marketing-oriented every day.
Q: What your biggest failure?
My biggest failure was in not learning how to speak Mandarin, despite 8 years of daily (self-taught) effort. About the most I can say is: “Wo shuode bu hao”, which means: “I speak not well”.
Q: Have you ever been in a fight?
My favorite fight came after 2 years of being bullied. An asthmatic weakling like the before pictures in the old Charles Atlas ads, I learned to lift weights, became strong and punched out my oppressor.
Q: What’s your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is to lose my beloved wife Gloria, who has given me joy for 48 years.
Q: What would you like your tombstone to say?
My tombstone (if there is room on it) would say: “Dear Friend who reads this now: remember, you have value.”
Q: Do you have any scars you’d like to share?
I have several scars from working with animals at Marine World Africa USA, including one on my left hand from a 500 pound loggerhead turtle named Chopper. I was feeding the reef tank, and she tried to bite the feed bag (I believe) and missed. I felt the bones bending in my hand, and knee-ed her in the stomach—no response, armor plating—same thing when I hit her head. I was screaming in my mind, when I thought to poke her in the eye. She released me, and gave me this hurt-feelings look like “why did you hurt me?” I felt like apologizing!
Q: How about recurring dreams?
One recurring dream I have is walking into my paralyzed son Roman’s room to help him with the necessaries—but he is not there! I think for an instant that he has died, but then I hear his voice behind me, saying “Hi, Dad”, and I turn and he is standing there, on his feet, cured, walking toward me: my son who has not stood on his own since his accident, 23 years ago….
Thank you, Don, for taking the time to visit N. N. Light’s Book Heaven.
Title: California Cures! How the California Stem Cell Program is Fighting Your Incurable Disease!
Author: Don C. Reed
Genre: Medicine, Stem Cell Research, Sciences
Thirteen years ago, America faced an epidemic of chronic disease: cancer, paralysis, blindness, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and more.
But California voters said "YES!" to a $3 billion stem cell research program: the awkwardly-named California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Born into battle, the scrappy little state agency was immediately blocked by three years of anti-science lawsuits — but it defeated them all. And then?
A quiet triumph. With a focused intensity like the Manhattan Project (but for peaceful purposes, not to build a bomb), scientists funded by CIRM took on the challenges: disease and disability called chronic: incurable.
In a series of connected stories, accurate though written to entertain, "California Cures" relates a war: science against disease, with lives on the line. Think what it means for a paralyzed young man to recover the use of his hands, or for a formerly-blind mother to see her teenaged children — for the first time!
Do you know the "bubble-baby" syndrome? Infants without a proper immune system typically die young; a common cold can kill. But for eighteen babies in a stem cell clinical trial, a different future: they were cured of their disease.
No one can predict the pace of science, nor say when cures will come; but California is bringing the fight. The reader will meet the scientists involved, the women and men behind the microscope, and share their struggle.
Above all, "California Cures" is a call for action. Washington may argue about the expense of health care (and who will get it), but California works to bring down the mountain of medical debt: stem cell therapies to ease suffering, and save lives.
Will California build on success — and invest $5 billion more in stem cell research?
"We have the momentum", says author Don C Reed, "We dare not stop short. Chronic disease threatens everyone — we are fighting for your family, and mine!"
Introduction: Evangelina and the Golden State
The Absolute Minimum You Need to Know First
To Breathe, or Not to Breathe
The Strongest Man in the World
When the Dolphin Broke My Ear
The Boy with Butterfly Skin
The Great Baldness "Comb-Over" Replacement?
"He Sees! He Sees!"
Cop at the Window
"Go West, Young (Wo)Man" — To a Biomed Career?
And How Will You be Paying for that New Heart?
The Answer to Cancer?
A Political Obstacle to Heart Disease Cure?
Your Friend, the Liver!
"Bring 'em Back Alive"
The Color of Fat
Revenge for My Sister
A Story with No Happy Ending?
Aging and Stem Cells
The "Impending Alzheimer's Healthcare Disaster"
President Trump's Great Stem Cell Opportunity
Leiningen's Ants and Parkinson's Disease
On the Morality of Fetal Cell Research
Democracy and Gloria's Knees
Three Children, and the Eternal Flame
Autism, Mini-Brains, and the Zika Virus
Why "The Big Bang Theory" Matters to Me
Musashi and the Two-Sword Solution
"The Magnificent Seven"
The Connecticut Commitment
In Memory of Beau
To Relocate Alligators, or Turn a Country on to Biomed?
Whale Sharks and Outer Space
Mr Science Goes to Washington?
When Oklahoma is Not OK
James Bond and Melanoma
Neurological Diseases vs. California
Driving to the Storm
Door into Tomorrow
Stem Cell Battles — On Times Square?
Annette, Richard Pryor, and Multiple Sclerosis
Mike Pence, and Reproductive Servitude
Motorcycle Wrecks and Complex Fractures
Even Dracula Gets Arthritis
Tugboat for Cure
Wheelchair Warriors, Take Back Your Rights!
Sickle Cell Disease vs. Stem Cell Agency
Dwight Clark, "The Catch," and A L S
A Friend is Lost
Dying in Doonesbury, Fighting Back at UCD
The Man with the Autographed Baseball
The Gorilla Gynecologist Returns
Wrestling the Invisible Enemy
Two Warriors Named Joan
An End to Heroism?
Message from the Middle Kingdom
Scientists and the Undocumented
The Girl, the Bandit, and Women in Science
The Greatest Proposal
Forty-Two California Clinical Trials
Gathering of Champions
A Nobel Prize for Bob Klein?
Afterword: For More Information
Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/California-Program-Fighting-Incurable-Disease/dp/981323136X/
Amazon CA https://www.amazon.ca/California-Program-Fighting-Incurable-Disease/dp/981323136X/
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/California-Program-Fighting-Incurable-Disease/dp/981323136X/
Publisher Buy Link http://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/10747
For Don Reed, the inspiration for the work he does is the people he works with and for. Reed is often called the “Grandfather of Stem Cell Research Advocacy”, and has been in the eye of the storm of stem cell research and advocacy since before the passage of Proposition 71, having worked at grassroots, national, international, and state levels to garner public support and advocating for policy action.
Reed’s involvement with stem cell research began after his son Roman was in a paralyzing football accident in 1994. The Reeds pursued multiple treatments and clinical trials nationally and internationally, and in their process of searching for spinal cord injury treatments for Roman, Don was led towards stem cell research. In a pre-computer era, he wrote to every member of the United States Senate and Assembly. Receiving no response, he then reached out to every member in the California Assembly and Senate. Assembly member John Dutra, (D-Fremont, retd.) responded, and the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act (AB 750), a research funding law, was passed in 1999 and funded America’s first embryonic stem cell therapy.
In 2002, Reed organized grassroots support for California Senator Deborah V. Ortiz (D-Sacramento, retd.) to pass the nation’s first stem cell research laws, giving California official permission to perform both embryonic stem cell research and somatic cell nuclear transfer.
His contribution to stem cell research and advocacy grew when he joined forces with Bob Klein in 2003. Klein’s leadership brought the passage of $3 billion California initiative, Proposition 71, the California Stem Cells for Research and Cures Act, which became the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Reed worked first as a volunteer, and later became vice President for Public Policy for Americans for Cures Foundation, a position he holds today.
Awards and Recognitions: Reed has won numerous advocacy awards, including the first patient advocate award from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the Willie Shoemaker Award for advancing spinal cord injury awareness, the first Genetic Policy Institute Advocate of the year Award, and various writing and teaching awards, including “Teacher of the Year” for Fremont Unified School District, and the National Press Award.
As a writer, he is best known for approximately 200 articles on stem cell politics for the Huffington Post, and as the author of the book, “STEM CELL BATTLES: Proposition 71 and Beyond”. Reed also wrote five books about the ocean, based on his 17 years as a scuba diver for Marine World Africa USA.
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