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The Boy In The Bubble (A Poem Dedicated to David Vetter)

Updated on October 20, 2016
Jodah profile image

John has been writing poetry since his school days. He was awarded "Poet of the Year 2014" Hubby Awards and has had two poems become songs.

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The Boy In The Bubble


Poor little boy

Wrapped in cotton wool.

Can't play outside,

No interaction.


Confined to a bubble,

Never experienced nature,

Laid on the grass,

Or smelt the flowers.


Never felt sun on his skin,

Or the wind in his hair,

Had a pet to hold,

Or friend to play with.


Poor little boy,

Will never travel,

Allergic to life,

His world in a bubble.

The Real Story

This was a true story of a little boy who lived virtually his whole life inside a sterile plastic bubble, waiting for a cure for his fatal immune disease (SCID) that, tragically, never came.

The world knew him as “the boy in the bubble,” or simply as David. People watched his life unfold on TV during the 70s and 80s as he grew up inside his special bubble and isolated from the germ filled outside world. The news always covered his birthdays, and because of this he captured hearts worldwide.

Sadly, David died at age 12, not from the disease, but after complications of a, then experimental, bone-marrow transplant.

His surname, Vetter, wasn't released publicly until ten years after his death in an attempt to protect his privacy and that of his family as much as was possible.

Today, approximately 40 years on, thanks to therapy made possible in part thanks to David's own blood cells, kids with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease (SCID), are able to lead normal and healthy lives.

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I remember that story well; you captured it beautifully. What an existence, huh? I can't imagine.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I did a story on this years ago when I first come here! It is a really sad story.

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Bill, you were quick commenting today. I can't imagine that it was much of a life, but I guess his family did the best they could.

      H Jackie, thanks for reading. Yes it was a sad story. I hadn't thought about it in ages...then suddenly had an urge to write a poem about it...weird.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      I remember the boy in the bubble too, so sad. However, I did not know about his blood cells helped future children to live normal lives! How amazing. Your poem captured his life and is heartrending.

      Thank you for reminding us about this precious little boy.

      Up and more, tweeting, pinning and sharing

      Bless you,

      Faith Reaper

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for your kind comment, share and pin Faith. Bless you.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I, too saw this film. I felt so bad for this boy. Something like this sure makes us wake up and count our many blessings. Nicely done Jodah.

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for reading vocalcoach. Yes it helps us appreciate how blessed we are.

    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      The Stages Of ME 3 years ago

      Jodah

      Such a sad little face, so isolated, I imagine him running free in heaven going everywhere, hugging all day long. Good song too ~ Blessings

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Stages Of Me, yes I am sure he is up there having a great time and making up for what he missed out of in life. Thanks for your comment.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      How sad and isolated his life must have been. Thank you for writing about this dreadful disease. We are so blessed when our children are healthy.

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Yes Blossom, hearing about these stories make us thankful. I appreciate your comment.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      you did the story true justice Jodah bravo...:)

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks Frank. It was about 30 to 40 years ago, but it still touches hearts.

    • sujaya venkatesh profile image

      sujaya venkatesh 3 years ago

      true jo

    • profile image

      Ghaelach 3 years ago

      Morning John.

      Remember the story well.

      Most people can't come to grips with not being able to touch, feel, see, or smell the things in your poem.

      Unfortunately there are some of us that have this problem. Thanks for reminding me/us how lucky I/we really are.

      Ghaelach

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks sujaya.

      Hi Ghaelach, thanks for reading this. Yes it sure does make you appreciate the life you have.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I remember seeing his case on tv as a kid but didn't recall what happened to him -- such a sad situation. Your poem describes his isolated world very well.

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for reading Flourish. Yes I saw it on TV as a child myself, but it has stayed with me all the time. I didn't realize he was the only child to have ever been placed in a bubble like this, but apparently so. yes , it was a sad story.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks for bringing this story into the light. What an amazing and sad story of this poor child. Glad to see that his cells were useful in helping to find a remedy.

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for reading this Peg. It was an amazing but sad true story. Glad you found it interesting, and yes it was good that he left a legacy to help others.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Jodah, your poem and story is great and very helpful to bring to light SCID. It is also a wonderful tribute to a brave little boy who lived his life one day at a time. I remember reading about him with each update that was written while he was alive. Thanks for sharing this story.

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      My pleasure to share this Phyllis. I could still remember hearing the story as a child and later saw the John Travolta movie about it. It has always been in the back of my mind, and off the bat decided to write a short poem about him.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      So beautifully put together your title got me thinking of that story all over again

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Devika. It's always a pleasure to have you read my hubs.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for reminding us of David's sad story, Jodah. What I find both happy and sad is your last sentence. I am very happy that people with David's condition can now be helped but sad that he didn't live to benefit from the treatment. However, he left a wonderful legacy in the form of his blood cells!

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for reading Alicia. It is some small comfort that at least his difficult life and sad ending did benefit others.

    • wayne barrett profile image

      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Well said. I remember watching this story (shows my age, eh?) Thank you for highlighting an area of struggle and advancement. Very nice work.

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks Wayne, mine too.. :).

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 3 years ago

      Hi Jodah.

      Even as keenly as your poem reminds us of the "poor little boy ", can not diminish memory of sad and painful "why ?". Why?

      Voted interesting.

      Shalom.

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      It will always be sad to remember this, especially his death due to the operation and not his condition. Thanks for reading Michael.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      An inspiring poem about a true story. I remember reading about David some time ago. How heartening it is to realize that children with this deficiency can now lead normal lives…thanks, in part, to David. Well done, John.

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Genna. I just felt David's legacy deserved another tribute.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 3 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Nice tribute hub. I've seen the 70's movie about David Vetter, played by a young John Travolta. I saw the show when I was a teen but recently watched it again on TV when it was on. I felt sad both as a teen and now that David had so little normality in his life due to his health condition and living literally in a bubble that mostly cut him off from everything in the world. I'm glad some research during and immediately following his short life led to better solutions and options for others who have the same condition David was born with.

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for reading this mythbuster and commenting. I had remembered seeing the movie years ago, and the Paul Simon song, and decided to write a tribute hub to David Vetter to remember his legacy.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      What a beautiful tribute to this boy. I remember hearing about him as well.

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Ologsinquito, it was such a touching story.

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Yes, I remember hearing about this story. I love the poem that you have before the article. So sad. Important to remember. Glad that those impacted today have a better life.

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for reading and for your kind comment Truthfornow. Glad you liked the poem, and yes it is good that his life wasn't in vain, but eventually helped others.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      This was very interesting. I never knew what happened to the "boy in the bubble", now I know. What a tragic life this poor boy had.

      Voted UP, etc. and shared.

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Glad I could fit the final piece into the puzzle for you Mary. Thank you for reading, the vote up and share.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      I remember that story so well, poor little guy, I had not thought of him for such a long time, so sad what happened to him, nell

    • Jodah profile image
      Author

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Yes Nell, I heard about it as a child and saw the movie with John Travolta..have never been able to get it completely out of my head. It was a very sad situation. After all the trouble they went to to keep,him alive and his years in a bubble to die from a complication was sad. Thanks for reading.

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