HOUSTON (FOX 26) - It sounds drastic, placing a tracking chip inside a human being, but a bill has been proposed that would allow just that. When most people think of implanting a microchip, it's into a pet, not a person. However, Congress is considering passing a law allowing a tracking device to be placed inside people with illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.
"There's Milt. First thing Milt did when we went to England was go to Burberry and buy a trench coat,” laughs Judy Feder as she thumbs through family photo albums. Unfortunately, a trip down memory lane is now the only place Feder can go with her husband Milton, whom she began dating when she was 19 years old.
”He's been the one love of my life,” Mrs. Feder explains. Mr. Feder, an engineer turned attorney, is now battling Alzheimers. He was diagnosed 10 years ago at 63 years old.
"He was able to really enjoy life and do a lot of things for a good five or six years after diagnosis. We traveled, just had a good time,” smiles Mrs. Feder. Then he began wandering away from home.
"We got the police involved. I mean they had helicopters out," Mrs. Feder said.
So what does Mrs. Feder think of the bill being considered by the House Judiciary Committee that would allow a tracking chip implanted into Alzheimer's, dementia, and autistic patients? "It's a difficult question for me to answer because I certainly respect anybody's privacy but being able to find that person if they do wander could save their life," Mrs. Feder said.
Critics of the law say perhaps patients could "wear" a tracking device instead of having one implanted. Feder says her husband wore a safe alert bracelet and maybe that's the answer. ”Maybe if you put a chip into that. The way this bracelet was on, it was tight enough that he couldn't pull it off. The clasp was basically locked," she said.
Milt, as his wife calls him, still knows his long time love and still calls her name. “When he wakes up from a nap, especially, his caregiver says he calls for Judy,” Mrs. Feder smiles. “I’m happy about that.” But he can no longer chew or swallow very well. “It's been very difficult, especially now," she said.
H.R. 4919 was supposed to go up for vote today but it was postponed.
Congressman Ted Poe says the bill is "well-intentioned but goes too far because of privacy concerns”.
The Alzheimer’s Association sent me a statement supporting the measure. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee also wants to see the bill pass. Jackson Lee says this may have saved former NBA player Marcus Camby’s nephew who's autistic. Nine-year-old Marcus McGhee went missing after he wandered away on Thanksgiving Day and his body was found on Saturday in a Pearland pond.