Science, Medicine and Society, Division of (NMAH, SI)
4.6 cu. ft. : 14 boxes
David Vetter was a Texas boy who was born with Severe Combined Immune Deficiency, a disease which required him to live in a sterile, plastic isolation unit. NASA scientists designed and created a special suit for David, which resembled astronauts' space suits. His parents, family, church, doctors, and community all made efforts to enable him to have a normal childhood and life. At age 12, he underwent experimental bone marrow surgery, which was not successful, and David died in 1984.
Papers relating to David Vetter, a Texas boy with an immunological disease. The papers document his and his family's efforts to maintain normalcy in his life in spite of the limitations imposed by his disease, and medical efforts to reduce or cope with the limitations. A special suit was designed for David by NASA scientists to give him mobility, and the papers include documentation of the development and implementation of the suit. The collection includes letters and greeting cards, photographs and photograph albums, medical records and internal hospital memoranda and documents from the Texas Children's Hospital, procedures manuals for the isolation unit, specifications for the space suit, David's school records and school art projects, receipts and other financial papers, trade literature for products used in creating the sterile isolation unit, medical journals, legislation proposing a Presidential Medal of Freedom for David, medical journals, and clippings.
David Vetter Collection, 1971-1986, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Immunological deficiency syndromes
Isolation (Hospital care)
Severe combined immunodeficiency
1986.0201 (NMAH Acc.)
Unrestricted research access on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves