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September 04, 1980 - Image 50

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-09-04

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Page 16-A-Thursday, SeptembLer 4, 1980-The Michigan Daily


i1l Ui
It sounds like the job you've been
waiting for. The hours are good, the
workplace is spotless, and they usually
pay in cash. Depending on the job, the
Wage can vary from $15 an hour to $6 a
iinute. Either way it's not too bad.
;You really don't have to do anything.
They aren't the least bit interested in
your mind. It's your body, or some part
pf it, that they're after.
You might be asked to donate a small
piece of skin from your hip. Or maybe
they'll give you a new drug to test, or
ktick a catheter in your heart. The risk
is minimal and if it hurts, well, you're
being reimbursed ...
NO AMOUNT of convincing, though,
will make most of us rush out and sign
up to be a paid volunteer for one of the
campus research experiments waiting
for potential subjects. No matter how
much we abuse our own bodies, most of
us are very wary about what we let
others do to them. Those fortunate few
who can overcome this uneasiness have
a profitable part time profession they'
can fall back on in an emergency. Few
prticipate often enough to get rich,
aIthough there are stories of enter-
Oreneurs who work their way through
miedical school loaning their bodies to

a buck? Be a guin

Both researchers and subjects show
disdain for the term "guinea pig." "It's
so ... so derogatory," says an LSA
senior who has participated in several
medical experiments. Second year
medical student Karen Wilson has a
better suggestion for a name: "We're
scientific prostitutes," she says.
It's an apt description. Though some
show an interest in the experiment,
some come as a favor to the researcher
and some arrive with an air of altruism,
the overwhelming majority are there
for the money. There aren't any other
legal ways to make so much money in
so little time. And many of the par-
ticipants really are desperate for
money, at least the first time they
volunteer. Once the guard is down ani
the find out, as many do, that it is nog
as terrible as they thought it would be,
they may choose to participate more of-
ten "for fun."
Engineering junior Mark Pressprich
was "destitute" last summer when he
noticed an advertisement on a bulletin
board in University Hospital where he
worked as a patient sitter. The notice
wanted volunteers for a digestion ex-
periment. It didn't sound too bad, and
the total pay would be $150. "I was
down in the bucks," he says. "When you
need money you'll do just about

University oE Mchigan 603 EAST MADISON

anything." Presspitch attended three
sessions of about four hours each. He
swallowed a tube that went from his
mouth to his small intestines so food
could bypass his stomach in an ex-
periment to test the effect certain en-
zymes have on food. It wasn't comfor-
table experience, but he's
philosophical: "A hundred and fifty
bucks is pretty good money for a tube in
your mouth." And besides, he adds, the
hospital fed him several free dinners,
which were greatly appreciated at the
Among those who do this sort of thing
often, there are very few who will do in-
discriminately any old type of ex-
periment just because the price is right.
Those who are familiar with the market
can name certain tests they would
never participate in. Fortunately for
the researchers, the standards of
would-be subjects vary somewhat ar-
bitrarily and widely advertised ex-
periments seldom lack for participants.
"I've got funny priorities," says
medical student Wilson. "There's an
experiment where you sell a small
swatch of skin for $60 and I wouldn't do
that, yet I'll allow them to put a tube in
my heart." She's referring to a series of
"cardiac catherization" hypertension
experiments she particpated in last
summer. During this series a cather
was inserted into the right altrium of
Wilson's heart through a vein in her
arm. Her blood pressure was measured
while she lay on a tilted table, drugged
and wearing a knee-length later vest.
"I never completely lost consciousness,
but my blood pressure went pretty low
at times," she notes nonchalantly. She
says she was "somewhat uncomfor-
table," but that the $250 she earned was
"the best money I've ever made."
The skin donation Wilson refuses to
do is actually one of the more 'popular'
experiments-in spite of the fact that
each donation leaves a small scar. A
participant is given a shot of
Novocaine, and a small bit of skin is
scraped from the buttocks or hip, the
area is bandaged and the donor walks
away with $60 in cash. An overly eager
student reportedly donated skin about
15 times. Max Dehn, an LSA
sophomore, donated skin last, year. "It
felt like I tripped and fell and scraped
my hip, only I was saved the pain of
falling by the novocaine," he says. "I
wouldn't do it again unless I needed the
money, but for $60 you can live with the
Medical students have an edge over
other volunteers, and they often check
out drugs beforehand that are going to
be used in an experiment to determine
if they are "safe." Greg Govert, a

ea pig
second year medical student, says he
checked out the consequences of taking
a drug by consulting with a friend in
pharmacology before he participated in
a certain experiment. "When you're
using drugs, it's prudent to be wary,"
he advises. Wilson also won't par-
ticipate in an experiment that uses
drugs she considers dangerous. She
says, for example, that she would not
volunteer for a research project that
involves a certain drug used to induce
amnesia in surgical patients, because
'people using the drug have been
known to have some pretty bad trips."
Before every experiment, a person
must sign a consent form which says
she or he is aware of the potential risks
and discomfort involved in the ex-
periment. Experiments on "nor-
mal"-or "healthy"-subjects involve
minimal risk, and in the case of an
emergency the hospital provides im-
medical care.
But the experiments can go wrong.
Julie, a health science student who
prefers that her real name not be used,
volunteered to participate in a
hemodynamics experiment for $150 this
year. A catheter was inserted into her
arm and up into her heart with the pur-
pose of measuring renal hormones, but
the experiment had to be stopped sud-
denly when she "ran into some pretty
intense complications." Emergency
care was provided and she was
hospitalized. Julie says the com-
plications were a fluke and insists that
her experience did not scare her away
from volunteering in other experiem-
tns. Last week she participated in a flu
vaccine experiment for $30. "It's
almost, kind of fun," she says, ex-
plaining that it's an easy way to earn
money. "I would do more (experimen-
ts) if I knew about more," she says.
Students who want to volunteer in a
research project often have their own
"review committee" of parents and
friends to give them the go-ahead.
Parents generally don't approve and of-
ten beg their offspring not to volun-
teer-usually to no avail. Some poten-
tial subjects just don't bother to inform
their parents of their plans.
Friends of scientific prostitutes call
them fools and idiots, but most
dedicated volunteers are unpreturbed.
"My friends think I'm crazy," admits
Julie. She hasn't had any luck convin-
cing them to join her, but she keeps
At any given time there are usually
several notices on bulletin boards at 'U'
hospital and other places around cam-
pus advertising experiments that need
participants. There are occasional ads
in the Daily but many potential subjects
hear about a project from people who
have already participated in the ex-
periment. A person is usually more
receptive to the idea if a roommate or
close friend is a living testimonial.




; a.


State marijuana law
may be lightened



A Lapeer County woman recently
convicted of possession of .22 grams of
marijuana, could be sentenced to one
year in jail and levied a $1000 fine under
Michigan law. In Ann Arbor, the same
offense would carry a $5 penalty.
Unfair? Absolutely, according to
State Senator Jerome Hart (D-
Saginaw). Hart is the sponsor of Bill 65
that would make possession of up to 30
grams of marijuana a civil offense
statewide with a maximum penalty of
THE CIVIL OFFENSE status would
mean a suspected offender would be
ticketed and ordered to appear in court.
If convicted, the offender would pay the
fine, after which all the records and
references to the violation would be
The bill, which has been passed by
the state Senate, would also set aside
convictions of anyone found guilty of
possessing less than 30 grams of pot in
the past ten years. These records would
also be destroyed.
Under the same bill, which needs the
approval of the House before Gov.
Milliken can sign it into law, a drug of-
fense by a minor would be treated more
seriously. Possession would be con-
sidered misdemeanor with a maximum
sentence of 30days in jail and a $100
ROGER WINTHROP, a member of,

the Michigan chapter of the Natignq l
Organization for Reform of Marijuana
Laws (NORML), said he ws
dissatisfied with this aspect of the hi
and hoped that the problem will "b
ironed out before the House vote. ~
Winthrop explained that the bill is n
only important because it allows e
personal freedom but also because
it saves tax dollars used for enforcih
the law.'
"Michigan taxpayers spend betw' e
$6 and $7 million a year in mariju~ii4
enforcement," Winthrop said.
legalization of marijuana is that it4asl
not been conclusively proven to be- a
harmless drug. Winthrop disclaims Qe
argument. "Marijuana is the only Iov-
toxic substance out of the three nlste
publicized abuses: Alcohol, tobaccW,
and marijuana," he said. "Jest
because it may be harmful to people
doesn't make it right that they; k;ij
treated as criminals."
Another bill, sponsored by 1tei
Richard Fitzpatraick (D-Battle Creek),
would replace local ordinances 'that
have been created to ban the sale,6f
smoking devices to custoners- fthe
bill passes, persons under age 19 willbt
prohibited from purchasing smoking
paraphernalia. This also includes
cigarettes and any other form of tobac-
co. Both Ithe customer and -the
proprietor would be subject to a fide if,
an illegal purchase is made.
Rep. Perry Bullard (D-Ann Arbor), a
proponent of legislation to
decriminalize marijuana user in
Michigan, said the proposed bill is, a
step in the right direction." He stressed
it should be illegal for minors to smke
pot. Bullard also said the passage of
this bill might eventually help Senadr
Hart's pot reform bill by demonstrating
to marijuana decriminalization op-
ponents that the pro-marijuana
proponents intend to be responsle
concerning who can use the substance.

Not Just a Job,
It's an
Find ot vvxr a

1st Church of Christ, Scientist

1833 Washtenaw

" SUNDAY SCHOOL 10:30 am
OPEN MON-SAT 10 om to 5 pm

(r a
.fi, / r / ;) -"

C7> FY4E


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