Life as an Extreme Sport

[The Daily] – Biological Incubators

Biological Incubators 2006-06-21 Susan Anne Catherine Torres and Cristina Doe were born 10 months apart, in August 2005 and June 2006, respectively. Sadly, Susan Torres passed away six weeks after birth. Yet these two girls are connected to one another through a very unusual circumstance: Both babies were born to braindead women. According to Dr. Winston Campbell of the University of Connecticut Health Center, there are approximately a dozen cases of braindead women completing gestation to the point of delivering a viable fetus in the medical literature. Further research in the journal of Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey shows another 15 cases of pregnant women in persistent vegetative states remaining on life support to deliver. While there are few cases in the literature, this is largely because technology has only recently advanced to the point of making this a possible practice. The idea of leaving a woman on life support to

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[The Daily] – Medicine or Miracle?

Medicine or Miracle? 2006-05-30 A recent episode of the television show House titled “House vs. God” dealt with the idea of faith healing, something that comes up a lot these days in medical journals. What is the power of prayer? Does faith healing work? Can miracles happen? As many are aware, there have been multiple studies that attempt to look at these subjects, the strongest being that of the effect prayer has on people. Unfortunately, even the people running these studies will tell you they are not well designed, and potentially flawed. This came to light recently when one of the most comprehensive studies on the power of prayer showed that prayer for post-operative cardiac patients actually appeared to have a slightly detrimental effect on the patient. Perhaps this is a reflection of my interdisciplinary training, but I think the much more interesting questions to ask are why miracles can’t

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[The Daily] – Expecting the layman to be a doctor

Expecting the layman to be a doctor 2006-05-24 You’re in the doctor’s office, and she’s just handed you a form to read. While you’re scanning over the form, she starts to explain it to you. It’s your consent-for-surgery form and it’s telling you what the surgical procedure is, what the goal of surgery is, and what the risks are — from common side effects to rare complications. This sounds simple and is common sense. It is, in fact, a required step all hospitals must go through in order to maintain accreditation. So what’s the problem with informed consent? Often, the problem is in what your doctor does. For example, do you understand the following? “A neurolytic sympathetic blockade of the right stellate ganglion nerve bundle with bupivacaine and a corticosteroid. “Potential complications include injection into the vertebral artery, phrenic and superior laryngeal nerve block and rarely, intrathecal injection.” Chances are

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[The Daily] – New DNA collection frightening

New DNA collection frightening 2006-05-15 Computer cracker Adrian Lamo is in trouble again. Not for cracking any new computer systems, but because he won’t give the federal government a blood sample so it can isolate his DNA and add it to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Lamo apparently isn’t opposed to giving the government his DNA; he did provide the FBI with nail clippings and hair samples. He simply states that giving the blood is against his non-specified religious beliefs. Those in charge, however, will only accept blood or saliva for the sample (no explanation has been given as to why Lamo has been told he can give only a blood sample). While it is certainly easiest to isolate DNA from blood, the technology exists to utilize DNA from other parts of the body, including the hair and nail samples Lamo provided. Now, while Lamo isn’t concerned about

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The Daily [05-08-06] – Dependency vs. Addiction

If this looks familiar to some of the longer-time readers, well… it was a busy week. And besides, the original was pretty good in and of itself. Dependency vs. Addiction Publish Date: 2006-05-08 I meant this column to be about the idea of informed consent. It’s a subject both House and Grey’s Anatomy have covered in their last couple episodes; something I would call a coincidence if they hadn’t been doing this back and forth of show themes for two seasons now. But one evening I managed to find myself on the Television Without Pity Web site, in theory rereading the details of those pertinent episodes of Grey’s and House, when I decided I wanted to read recaps from earlier episodes. That decision led me back to a first-season episode of House titled “Detox.” The theoretical point of this episode was a teenager with bleeding of unknown origin, but the

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