Space race advances in technology benefited David Vetter throughout his short life. In fact, NASA engineers had built the isolators that kept the young boy's environment germ-free. Then, in 1977, NASA made the five-year-old a custom-made, $50,000 spacesuit. The Mobile Biological Isolation System, which came with a 54-page user's manual, would allow Vetter to leave his plastic bubble for the first time.
In 1974 doctors at Texas Children's Hospital caring for David Vetter considered how they might help him experience life beyond the stationary isolator bubbles that protected him from the germs to which he was so susceptible. They needed engineers who understood life support systems and synthetic fabrics, who could "dock" the suit with the isolator, and who allowed no margin of error. Luckily, those engineers worked down the road at NASA's Johnson Space Center.
Katherine Vetter was almost four years old when her brother David was born with an immunodeficiency disorder. The close genetic match between siblings meant that Katherine was David's best hope for a cure at the beginning and at the end of his life.
David Phillip Vetter, the "Bubble Boy," left a deep mark on a world he visited only briefly. David's life contributed to scientific understandings and treatments of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), the disease that kept him in the bubble.