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David's suit attached to the mobile support vehicle.

NASA diagram of the tunnel used to enter and exit the space suit

"The Boy in the Bubble"

David (1971-1984)
As his mother looks on, six-year-old David plays with a water hose during one of his initial ventures outside the confines of the Texas Children's Hospital in Houston in June 1978. David was born at the hospital with an extremely rare hereditary disorder known as severe combined immune deficiency. Because his brother had died of the disease, doctors immediately placed David into a plastic isolation unit that acted as an artificial immune system. The NASA-made mobile isolator system shown here allowed him a degree of mobility. David, who became known to the world as "the boy in the bubble," lived in such isolators for nearly 13 years. He died on February 22, 1984, following an unsuccessful bone marrow graft, an attempt to provide him with the capacity to make antibodies on his own and thus free him from the bubble.

Acquired, 1986.
The Mobile Biological Isolation System was developed by NASA at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.
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Learn more!
· National Museum of American History Accepts Medical and Personal Artifacts of David, the Boy Who Lived in Bubble like Environment Smithsonian News Release, March 20, 1986 [SI-120-86]
· Mobile Biological Isolation System, NASA brochure, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, undated [after 1976]

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