Documentary Review | The Boy in the Bubble
The Boy in the Bubble captures the life and medical treatment of David Vetter, a boy born with SCID, or “Severe Combined Immunodeficiency,” meaning that he had no working immune system. He was placed in a sterilized isolator, his “bubble,” from right after his birth and did not leave other than via a specially designed space suit or transporter until he was unsuccessfully treated for a virus from his sister’s bone marrow and died at age 12. David became known worldwide (with some privacy) and was the topic
of many news reports and ethical debates, and it even inspired a feature film about a boy living in a bubble. Many scientific breakthroughs came after his death, and babies born with SCID had over a 90% success rate as of 2006.
The documentary was emotionally engaging, particularly during the accounts given by his mother and his psychologists. Live footage of David interacting with his family and his caregivers, accompanied by artistic representations of David’s thoughts, dreams, and fears, engages the viewer in a sympathetic yet fascinating way. The ethical questions raises, particularly those about the effect on David’s psychosis, make the viewer think, though bias creates a cushion against the criticism. However, condensing 12 years of this case into one hour prevents much depth of information, which motivates the viewer to research the topic more on their own for more details of the young boy’s isolated yet miraculous life.
Written by Starla Eckhardt