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Successful Womb Transplant and Birth Gives Hope to Mothers With Infertility

swedish transplant womb

Thanks to the first successful womb transplant, women who suffer from certain infertility problems now have another viable option to achieve pregnancy and birth.

The 36-year-old mother gave birth to a son who was delivered eight weeks premature due to pre-eclampsia. He was delivered by caesarian section. The baby was carried to term (almost) in a womb that was transplanted from a 61-year-old friend of the recipient. The mother suffers from Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuester-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, in which women are born without part or all of their womb or vagina.

The woman was part of a study conducted by professors at the University of Gothenburg who originally transplanted nine uteri into women from Sweden with MRKH syndrome or those who had previously undergone hysterectomies. Initially the study showed great promise with some women beginning to menstruate within 2-3 months. In other cases, the body either rejected the donated wombs or infection forced hysterectomy of the new uteri.

Even the mother who recently gave birth had a few setbacks when her body tried to reject the new womb three times. She was treated effectively with corticosteroid drug therapy. One year after the 10 hour surgery to transplant the uterus, an IVF embryo was inserted into the new womb.

Professor Matts Brännström, who spearheaded the research with his colleagues, spoke about the transplants in The Lancet saying, “Our success is based on more than 10 years of intensive animal research and surgical training by our team and opens up the possibility of treating many young females worldwide that suffer from uterine infertility.”

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29-Year-Old Brittany Maynard Pursues Right to Die in Light of Terminal Brain Cancer

By Brooke Randolph, LMHC

Brittany Maynard is facing a medical prognosis that no one wants to face — brain cancer. Specifically, glioblastoma multiforme, the most lethal form of brain cancer. The otherwise vibrant 29-year-old was given months to live and the likelihood of a difficult decline and “terrible, terrible way to die.” She is still traveling and spending time with loved ones, but she is also dedicating her time to advocate for those in similar situations who want to die with dignity. Brittany makes it clear that she is not suicidal, she wants to live, but facing this future, she is choosing to die with the help of physician prescribed medication. She wants more people to be able to make the same choice.

For Brittany to even have this choice, she had to move her entire family from California to Oregon, establish a new medical treatment team, and find a doctor willing to write the prescription. In California, and many states, this was not an option for her. In fact, it is only legal in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico currently. continue reading »

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Joan Lunden Reminds Breast Cancer Patients They Can Still Feel Empowered During Treatment

In the United States, October is hailed as Breast Cancer Awareness month . According to statistics from Breast Cancer.Org, it’s estimated that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and over 300,000 new cases have already been diagnosed in 2014 alone.

Joan Lunden people 350This week, ABC correspondent, Joan Lunden has been visiting the set of the Today Show for their #pinkpower series. Joan, who is fighting her own battle with breast cancer, also appeared on the cover of People magazine without her wig. Her message to other patients, “Be empowered. Be your own best advocate.”

The diagnosis of breast cancer affects people in different ways. Joan says she didn’t cry when she received the news because she immediately went into what she calls, warrior mode. “You have to take care of yourself and believe you’re going to be okay in the end,” she said. “It’s better for me to stay in the thought process that I will beat this no matter what.”

Many people talk about the fight against breast cancer, but for women who have already been diagnosed, the fight through it, becomes top priority. Though patients may feel a loss of control during their treatment, it’s important for them to focus on all the mental and physical things they can still do to maintain a sense of empowerment.

  • Be Involved – There are decisions that patients will need to make about surgery and other courses of treatment. Listen to the options, ask questions, consult with your support system and then meet with your treatment team.
  • Establish a Support System – Try to take at least one person with you during doctors visits. Have that person be in charge of writing down the information that was discussed, and remind you of any questions you wanted to ask.

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Ebola in the U.S.: 5 Ebola Facts to Know Before You Panic

ebola

The first case of Ebola has been found in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control confirmed on Tuesday. A man who took a commercial flight from Liberia to Dallas and landed on September 20 was officially diagnosed with the disease 10 days later.

The man was visiting relatives in the United States when he started to display symptoms. Because he did not show symptoms on the flight, and in fact passed an Ebola screening before boarding, no one else on the flight is at risk of contracting the disease.

Director of the disease centers, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said at a press conference there is “zero chance” that anyone on the flight was infected. continue reading »

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Hookah Smoking is Not a Safe Alternative to Cigarettes

HOOKAH SMOKING

Many teens and young adults have traded their cigarette habit for the hookah pipe because they believe it to be less addictive and harmful. On the contrary, studies show this new trend is just a more flavorful route to lung problems and heart disease.

With restaurants, bars, and even outdoor venues continuing to banish cigarette smokers further and further to the outskirts, the hookah pipe has emerged without stigma and remains a popular social trend. This prolonged exposure is just one of many concerns that experts have with hookah smoking. In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that during an hour long hookah session, a person could inhale as much smoke as a cigarette smoker would consume in 100 cigarettes.

A hookah is a water pipe that originated in the Middle East. Special tobacco often mixed with fruit (shisha) is heated, then it passes through water before a person inhales the smoke through a tube and mouthpiece. Flavors like chocolate, mint, cherry, watermelon and more are common additives. Inhaling cherry-flavored smoke may seem like harmless fun, but the primary ingredient is still toxic. Contrary to popular belief, the carcinogens in tobacco are not filtered out when they pass through the water of a hookah.

Trading One Toxin For Another

A study published in Nursing Research notes that the majority of adults who smoke hookah (18-30) think it’s safe. This false assumption may come from studies that show hookah smoking contains less nicotine than cigarettes. While that may true, for some blends, researchers at the University of California found that carbon monoxide levels were 2.5 times higher in participants who smoked hookah pipes than those who smoked cigarettes. In addition, researchers found increased levels of benzene, which could put hookah smokers at an increased risk for leukemia.

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Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Extreme Illness Affecting Princess Kate and 60,000 Other Pregnant Women

hyperemesis gravidarum

Earlier this week, Britain’s Prince William reported that Princess Kate would be cancelling a much-anticipated trip to Malta (a group of seven islands in the Mediterranean sea) due to intense morning sickness. During her first pregnancy, Kate also experienced extreme nausea, and was eventually diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, a rare condition that strikes pregnant women and can often be debilitating.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, 70-80 percent of pregnant women experience some type of morning/evening sickness but up to 60,000 cases are so severe they fit into the category of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). While some women finally see relief by week 20 (halfway through their pregnancy) others battle symptoms until their due date. The illness is believed to be caused by a rise in levels of the hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) though doctors still don’t know for sure. Unfortunately, there is no known preventative measure for HG.

Some experts believe the number of women suffering with HG could be higher than 60,000 because some women never go to the hospital, and are able to manage their symptoms at home. While some women experience what they consider to be extreme morning sickness, there are a few clear indicators of hyperemesis gravidarum.

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Enterovirus 68 is the Respiratory Virus Packing a Punch in the Midwest

enterovirus 68 respiratory virus

A rare virus has reemerged in the Midwest hospitalizing hundreds of kids and threatening to cause an epidemic, all before the start of the actual cold and flu season. Health officials warn that while the virus is not deadly, it is crowding intensive care units across the nation.

Known as Enterovirus EV-D68 (enterovirus 68), this strain is similar to the rhinovirus which causes the common cold. The illness is marked by severe respiratory distress, particularly in children under 10 years of age whose little airways can become narrowed, characterized by a wheezing noise.

Where have the worst cases been reported?

Currently, Colorado has been hit the worst with 900 cases treated at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver, and that’s just since mid-August. According to the CDC, nine other states including Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah and Georgia have all asked for assistance in treating this virus. Pediatric intensive care units are filling up, with the worst cases being reported in children who already suffer from asthma.

First identified in the 1960s, enterovirus 68 is rare but not new. In 2009 it made a small appearance in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona. What’s disconcerting is the number of cases confirmed this year alone, which already tops 1,000.  

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Diseases That Kill Versus What We Donate – Do Charities Need a Hook?

Over the past few weeks my social media timelines have been filled with celebrities, friends and family members filming themselves doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a popular meme that involves either dumping ice water on your head or donating to the ALS Association (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) or both. To date, The ALS Association has raised over 88.5 million dollars, a significant jump from the 2.6 million raised during the same time frame last year.

donating versus death graph 1While the general public debates about whether to continue this seemingly endless loop of videos, nominations and giving, it’s definitely an interesting case study in human behavior, and why people give to certain charities.

Often, the most crippling diseases and those that take the most lives get ignored. Do they just need better PR?

This graph shows the distinction between the diseases that kill the most people in the US versus the ones garnering the most donations. While heart disease leads the pack, claiming almost 600,000 lives in 2013, it has the third largest donation pool.

While third place might not seem too bad, heart disease still gets to stand on the podium, the actual dollars donated are just a fraction of what is raised by the Komen Race for the Cure for breast cancer, the fourth largest killer.

Unless your charity has jazz hands, it’s probably not raising enough money. 

The past two decades have seen a significant jump in the way charities reach their target audience. Websites, online campaigns and social media “shares” should be  making more money for research and drug treatment across the board, but that’s not happening. Unless your disease has a good “hook,” celebrity endorsement, telethon or ongoing national campaign, you’ll only get the donations of passionate supporters.

In an article on Slate magazine, senior editor, Felix Salmon urged generous donors to contribute to charities that have more of an immediate positive effect including, “areas such as education, or clean water, or animal rescue, or the arts, or simply just giving money to poor people.”

If nothing else, hopefully the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon will challenge and inspire other charity leaders to come up with inventive ways to raise money. For the rest of us, it’s still a good lesson in philanthropy, though maybe we need to spread our financial kindness out just a bit  more.

 

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Wilderness Lovers Rejoice! Poison Ivy May be Kept at Bay With Rhu Tox Treatment

If you’ve ever suffered from the itching, redness and swelling of poison ivy, you know how miserable these symptoms can be. While a host of pharmaceutical and natural products exist to aid in healing, the homeopathic solution Rhus Tox has a seen a resurgence with nature lovers. Its popularity is due in part to claims that it can create an immunity to the plant.

rhu tox

Rhu Toxicodendron (Rhu Tox) is an extract from the poison ivy plant. Compound pharmacies dilute the extract down until the final product has just enough extract to help the patient become desensitized to the plant. As a treatment, Rhu Tox is commonly given in pill form (taken under the tongue) to lessen the itchy painful rash that occurs when the sap of the plant comes in contact with skin.

As a prevention method, Rhu Tox is given in smaller doses during the off-season with the hope that the patient will build up an immunity when the plant is most active during the height of summer. In many people, even if the regimen didn’t make them completely immune, it still lessened the effects of the breakout significantly.

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Lipitor Lawsuits On the Rise as Cases of Type 2 Related Diabetes Increase

lipitor crop

Pfizer’s drug, Lipitor is well known for its cholesterol-lowering prowess. However, it’s quickly becoming known for a less pleasant reason – it may also cause type 2 diabetes and memory loss.

That’s what several women filing lawsuits against Pfizer are claiming, anyway. They say that the company knew about these harmful side effects, but failed to properly warn the public while encouraging them to buy Lipitor.

Two years ago, the FDA warned that Lipitor and other statins had been linked to memory loss and an increased risk of diabetes, though the risk was small. It was at that time that the first uptick in lawsuits against Pfizer was seen, primarily from women. Allegedly, women are more likely to develop diabetes after Lipitor use, and reap fewer benefits from taking the medication.

In the last five months alone, the number of lawsuits by women claiming Lipitor caused them to develop type 2 diabetes rocketed from 56 to almost 1000 cases.

Many are suggesting the recent jump in numbers in lawsuits against Pfizer is due to the decision to consolidate all lawsuits involving claims that Lipitor causes diabetes into one Federal courtroom. Those that opposed the decision warned it could cause “copycat” filings against the company.

Another contributing factor to the large number of suits brought against Pfizer and Lipitor is that Lipitor is the best-selling prescription drug ever. More than 29 million people in the United States have been prescribed Lipitor to help lower their cholesterol.

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