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Monday, June 29, 2015

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-33220266

Why are Australian organ donation rates so low?


Shivaun Deacon and her brother Amon Leis with a photo of their brother Ivahn Leis
Shivaun Deacon and Amon Leis take comfort knowing their brother Ivahn's organs saved a life
Despite investing heavily in its organ donation system in recent years, the Australian government is again asking why donor numbers have failed to rise significantly.
Knowing her brother's heart still beats inside another chest helps Shivaun Deacon deal with the grief that followed his death in a road accident five years ago.
It also makes her one of a surprisingly small group of Australians whose loved ones donate their organs after they die.
In 2010, Ms Deacon's family were travelling to a family reunion. Still on her way from Sydney, she talked briefly on the phone to her father, who offered to put her 40-year-old brother Ivahn Leis on the line.
"I said, 'No, I'll just say hi when I get there," she recalls.

Difficult decision

A few hours later, Ivahn went for a walk and was hit by a truck. He never regained consciousness.
The family understood the urgent need for organ donations for transplant patients but it was still a difficult decision: the doctors had declared Ivahn 'brain dead' but he remained on a ventilator to keep his blood circulating to the organs for transplant.
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Family reunions were important for the Leis family
"His chest was still moving, his joints were still mobile, there was no rigor mortis setting in. So, it was very hard to reconcile in my head that he was actually gone," Ms Deacon told the BBC.
What made the experience ultimately uplifting was the care her family received from specialist hospital staff.
"They were there for my brother, first and foremost, and then for us, and the dignity and compassion they showed my brother in the end was just beautiful," she says.
"Knowing Ivahn was an organ donor and his heart is still beating inside someone else, it gave us something to hold on to and take some comfort in."
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Organ donation basics
•Organs that can be transplanted include the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, intestine, and pancreas
•Tissues that can be transplanted include heart valves and other heart tissue, bone, tendons, ligaments, skin and parts of the eye
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Ivahn was one of about six million Australians, or 30% of the adult population, who are registered as would-be donors.
Australia has one of the highest rates of registered donors per capita in the world and is a world leader in transplant surgery. But that does not translate into a high level of actual organ donation.  ...

Lab-made blood to enter human trials in 2 years

Lab-made blood to enter human trials in 2 years


Artificial blood grown in a lab from stem cells is one step closer to being available to people with complex blood types for whom it is difficult to find matching donors. The UK's NHS (National Health Service) Blood and Transplant say manufactured blood will be used in clinical trials with human volunteers within 2 years.
The aim is one of several that the joint England and Wales special health authority has entered into with top universities to develop transfusion, transplantation and regenerative medicine over the next 5 years.
The intention is not to replace human donation, says Dr. Nick Watkins, NHS Blood and Transplant assistant director of research and development, but to offer specialist treatment for specific patient groups.
The health authority say there is a need to increase the availability of better-matched blood for patients with rare blood types. These include patients with blood conditions like sickle cell anaemia and thalassemia, who require regular blood transfusions.
The authority collects 1.7 million units of blood each year. Hospitals in England and Wales need around 6,000 units a day, they say, and volunteer blood donors are vital.
The pressure is building not only because of demand, but also because of a shortage of donors. In 2014, 40% fewer people volunteered as new donors compared with 10 years earlier.
To ensure the nation's stock of blood remains at a safe level, NHS Blood and Transplant say there is a need to recruit 204,000 donors in 2015.  ... 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Supreme Court's Nod to Gay Marriage a Psychological Boost to Couples: Experts

Supreme Court's Nod to Gay Marriage a Psychological Boost to Couples: Experts

News Picture: Supreme Court's Nod to Gay Marriage a Psychological Boost to Couples: ExpertsBy Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Mental Health News

FRIDAY, June 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Supreme Court's historic decision on Friday now guarantees the right to marriage for same-sex couples across the nation.
In a close 5 to 4 vote, the judges narrowly upheld the legality of gay and lesbian couples to marry -- something that 36 states have already sanctioned.
In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that notions of equality and respect were key to their decision.
"It is demeaning to lock same-sex couples out of a central institution of the Nation's society, for they too may aspire to the transcendent purposes of marriage," Kennedy wrote.
According to The New York Times, 70 percent of Americans already live in jurisdictions allowing same-sex marriage, and the new Supreme Court decision effectively extends that right nationwide. Polls also show a majority of Americans supporting same-sex marriage.
Many social scientists believe that the affirmative ruling will deliver psychological dividends to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

A marriage contract offers many legal protections and benefits. But equally important is the security and sense of well-being it can provide couples, the experts explained.  ...

Many More Women Than Men Living to 100

Many More Women Than Men Living to 100


News Picture: Many More Women Than Men Living to 100

Latest Senior Health News

THURSDAY, June 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Men are less likely than women to reach 100, but those who do tend to be healthier than their female peers, a new study finds.
Although women are four times more likely than men to hit 100, they are more likely to suffer broken bones or develop more than one chronic health problem, such as incontinence or loss of vision or hearing, the British researchers said. Men had fewer chronic ailments.
"We found a surprising number of 100-year-olds who had no major illnesses," study author Nisha Hazra, of King's College London, said in a university news release. "However, as the number of people living to 100 continues to increase, it's very important to understand the evolving health care needs of the oldest old. This will help to accurately project health care cost associated with the aging population."
The researchers analyzed public health records of more than 11,000 centenarians in the U.K. to investigate the main health issues affecting these older people, such as diabetes, stroke, cancer and arthritis. The researchers also examined age-related health risks, including falls, dementia, broken bones and vision issues.  ... 

Dutch campaigners fly abortion pills into Poland - BBC News

Dutch campaigners fly abortion pills into Poland - BBC News

Dutch campaigners fly abortion pills into Poland

A drone carrying abortion pills that took off from Frankfurt an der Oder in Germany lands in Slubice, Poland, on Saturday
The drone flew the pills into Poland, where they were immediately taken by two Polish women
Dutch campaigners have used a drone to fly abortion pills into Poland.
The group, Women on Waves, flew the aircraft from Germany to highlight Poland's restrictive laws against terminating pregnancies.
Waiting for the drone on the other side were two Polish women who took the pills, used to induce a miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy.
Abortion was legal in Poland in the Communist era, but outlawed in most cases in 1993.
It is only permitted in cases of rape or incest, in cases of irreversible foetal malformation, or if the mother's life is at risk.
The drone took off from the town of Frankfurt an der Oder and flew across the River Oder to the Polish border town of Slubice.
"After the drones left, the German police tried to intervene but the drone pilots were able to safely land the drones at the Polish side," Women on Waves said in an online statement.
"The German police confiscated the drone controllers and personal iPads.
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The packets of pills can be seen taped to the sides of the drone
"They pressed criminal charges but it is totally unclear on what grounds. The medicines were provided on prescription by a doctor and both Poland and Germany are part of Schengen" - the zone of 26 European countries within which internal borders have been abolished.
Women on Waves has sent abortion boats to countries with strict abortion laws - including Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Poland - sparking protests from anti-abortion groups.
The resurgent Catholic Church supported the move in 1993 to outlaw terminations in most cases, reports the BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw.  ...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Intense Therapy Helps Restore Arm Function Long After Stroke: Study

Intense Therapy Helps Restore Arm Function Long After Stroke: Study

News Picture: Intense Therapy Helps Restore Arm Function Long After Stroke: Study
TUESDAY, June 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Intensive physical therapy helps restore arm function in people who have survived a severe stroke, a new study finds.
University of Florida researchers followed 39 patients who underwent intense physical therapy for the arms five hours a day, five days a week, for 12 weeks.
For the study, the team "enrolled people who had a stroke a year or more prior to their study participation, and who were still severely impaired," lead researcher Janis Daly, a professor of neurology in the College of Medicine, said in a university news release.
"The magnitude of recovery we observed in our study is higher than any other studies that have been published so far, which supports the promise of longer treatment and more intensive treatment after stroke, even for those who are more severely impaired," she added.
Three rehabilitation methods were used. One was motor learning rehabilitation, in which patients concentrate on performing a movement as deliberately as possible and constantly repeat the movement.
Another method was electrical stimulation rehabilitation, in which electrodes stimulate the muscles on the forearm and cause the hand to lift. The third method was robotics-assisted rehabilitation, in which robotics software assists with arm movement.
One group of patients did five hours a day of motor learning alone, while the other patients did motor learning for 3.5 hours and either electrical stimulation or robotic-assisted therapy for 1.5 hours.

On average, patients in all three groups doubled or nearly doubled the ability to use their stroke-affected arm, according to the study.   ...

Evidence Supports Medical Pot for Some Conditions, Not Others

Evidence Supports Medical Pot for Some Conditions, Not Others


News Picture: Evidence Supports Medical Pot for Some Conditions, Not OthersBy Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Prevention & Wellness News

TUESDAY, June 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Medical marijuana can be useful in treating chronic pain, but may be less effective for other conditions, a new analysis reveals.
A review of nearly 80 clinical trials involving medical marijuana or marijuana-derived drugs revealed moderately strong evidence to support their use in treating chronic pain, says a report published June 23 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The evidence also showed that the medications could help multiple sclerosis patients who suffer from spasticity, which involves sustained muscle contractions or sudden involuntary movements.
But the review found weaker support for the drugs' use in treating sleep disorders; nausea or vomiting related to chemotherapy; for producing weight gain in people with HIV; or for reducing symptoms of Tourette syndrome, a nervous system disorder characterized by repetitive movements or sounds.
The researchers also found no evidence that marijuana-based drugs could help treat psychosis or depression. ... 

Too Few Older Heart Attack Patients Get Implanted Defibrillators, Study Finds

Too Few Older Heart Attack Patients Get Implanted Defibrillators, Study Finds

News Picture: Too Few Older Heart Attack Patients Get Implanted Defibrillators, Study FindsBy Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter
TUESDAY, June 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer than one in 10 older heart attack survivors gets a potentially lifesaving implantable defibrillator, a new study finds.
This small, battery-powered device sits under the skin in the chest. If the heart starts beating abnormally or stops altogether, the defibrillator shocks the heart to restore a normal rhythm.
Heart doctors say many heart attack survivors -- but not all -- would benefit from such a device.
"We do not think that 100 percent of patients with weak hearts after heart attacks should be getting implanted defibrillators," said study lead researcher Dr. Sean Pokorney, a cardiology fellow at Duke University School of Medicine, in Durham, N.C.
However, he added, "sometimes heart function recovers, but this is uncommon and does not fully explain the very low implantation rates observed in our study."
Even among those who would benefit most -- patients with large amounts of heart damage and very weak hearts -- the rate remained low, said Pokorney, who has received support in the past from Boston Scientific Inc., a maker of implantable defibrillators.

For the study, Pokorney's team collected data on more than 10,300 heart attack patients, average age 78, with reduced heart function who were listed in a national cardiovascular data registry.  ...

Study identifies characteristics of patients likely to have a potential living liver donor

Study identifies characteristics of patients likely to have a potential living liver donor

New research published in Liver Transplantation, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the International Liver Transplantation Society, reports that younger patients, those who are married, and those with Child-Pugh C disease--the most severe measure of liver disease--are more likely immigrants, divorced patients and those at the lowest income levels were less likely to have a potential live donor volunteer for liver donation.
With a limited supply of deceased donor organs, livers from living donors provide a much needed, life-saving option for those with end-stage liver disease. Despite evidence suggesting that the 5-year recipient survival from the time of wait listing is estimated to be 20% higher with a live donor compared with deceased donor, living donor liver transplantation accounts for only a few percent in many Western countries. ...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Study shows importance of cause of kidney failure when planning future treatment

Study shows importance of cause of kidney failure when planning future treatment

As a new physician in Galway, Ireland, and then as a nephrology fellow at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Michelle O'Shaughnessy, MD, began to wonder whether similar treatment plans for all patients whose kidneys had failed was necessarily the best practice.
"I was struck by my patients, who were often young and on dialysis at the age of 23 or 24," O'Shaughnessy said, referring to patients whose kidneys had failed because of glomerulonephritis, a group of rare disorders that damage the kidney's ability to filter the blood.
"I thought there should be other avenues for them," she added. "They were trying to get a career going, to keep their life together. We should be able to treat them better."
Currently, the standard of care is to follow a similar treatment plan for most kidney-failure patients, whatever the initial cause of their kidney failure. The two leading causes in the United States are hypertension and diabetes, followed by the rarer glomerulonephritis, which is also called glomerular disease.
"The cause of the kidney failure and the side effects of prior treatments are often disregarded," O'Shaughnessy said. "All these patients receive the same kind of generic treatment approach: a transplant or dialysis. The original cause of kidney failure is not usually taken into account."
O'Shaughnessy set out to research whether it might be more beneficial to tailor treatment plans individually for kidney failure patients. For example, a patient with a high risk for infections may benefit from a certain type of vascular access for dialysis, or a patient at increased risk for cancer may benefit from more regular cancer screening before and after kidney transplantation.
Subtype of disease matters
In a resulting study, published online recently in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, O'Shaughnessy and colleagues used big data to determine that mortality rates for patients whose kidney failure was attributed to glomerulonephritis vary significantly according to which subtype of the disease they had. These results suggest that treatment plans should vary according to root causes of kidney failure, she said.
"We showed that a patient's cause of kidney failure is strongly associated with their risk of dying after starting dialysis or receiving a kidney transplant," she said. "This suggests that the cause of kidney failure should not be forgotten even after a patient's kidneys fail; instead, treatment should be tailored toward disease-specific risks, and research should be carried out to determine why these survival disparities exist."

Researchers examined data from 84,301 patients who, between 1996 and 2011, suffered end-stage kidney disease attributed to one of the six major glomerular disease subtypes.  ...