Monday, October 31, 2011

Zebrafish have capacity to regenerate their own hearts

The potential to regenerate organ tissue is exciting news as researchers around the world are developing techniques such as generating beating heart cells from stem cells. I had the opportunity to see this in action during a personal tour of the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine and learned that stem cells are undifferentiated (or unspecialized) cells that are capable of renewing themselves indefinitely. This undifferentiated state means that a single stem cell has a unique capability to grow and generate a wide variety of specialized cell types (e.g., muscle cells, neurons, heart muscle cells, etc) under the right physiological conditions.

How a fish can teach us survival
Zebrafish have a rare capacity to regenerate their own hearts if they get damaged. Now scientists hope to learn from them.

Zebrafish are not just for brightening aquariums, they are key to research. Photograph: Alamy

theguardian.co.uk
The British Heart Foundation turned 50 earlier this year and launched its Mending Broken Hearts Appeal – one of its most ambitious projects ever. The goal is to spend £50m ($80.57 million) on research that could begin to literally mend broken hearts in as little as 10 years.

Hope for success rests partly on the amazing zebrafish, which have the ability to regenerate heart muscle – something that tens of thousands of people in the UK living with debilitating heart failure caused by a heart attack can't do. By unlocking the biological secrets of the zebrafish, scientists funded by the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal aim to identify and harness the key genes and chemical messengers that allow the fish to regenerate heart muscle, and find a way to help human hearts damaged by heart attacks heal themselves.

Without this vital research, the growing number of patients surviving heart attacks will remain without hope of an end to the debilitating symptoms of heart failure, such as breathlessness, tiredness, palpitations, swollen ankles, lack of appetite, anxiousness and depression. Drugs and surgery can help alleviate symptoms, but currently the only cure for heart failure is a heart transplant. And even if a donor is found, a heart transplant may not fully restore quality of life for recipients who require a lifetime of immunosuppressant drugs to prevent organ rejection.

How much better it would be to be able to regenerate healthy heart tissue and replace heart muscle destroyed by heart attacks. The zebrafish is already providing vital clues about how this could be done in human hearts. If part of its heart is damaged, it can repair it in a matter of weeks, just like we are able to mend a broken bone.

Because zebrafish are transparent early in their life cycle, it is relatively easy for researchers to see their hearts and blood vessels grow. Their hearts begin to develop after just 12 hours, and they reach adult size – about 3cm long – in about three months, so they can provide quick research results.

Dr Tim Chico, consultant cardiologist at the University of Sheffield, whose work is partly funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), explains: "The same pathways and genes that made my heart and your heart are responsible for switching on heart development in zebrafish. At that fundamental level we share more common mechanisms than you might imagine.

"We have a library of many thousands of compounds that might be the next best drug. With zebrafish we can very quickly screen them to see if the compounds have an effect.

"We can switch off genes and see how the zebrafish regrows vessels to repair damage. If we could switch the right genes on in humans then we could live longer and survive better after a heart attack."

By spending £50m ($80.57 million), the BHF aims to fund world-leading scientists in stem cell research, regenerative medicine and developmental biology to find ways to repair or replace damaged or dead heart tissue with new, healthy, functioning heart tissue.

"The aim of the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal is to start early clinical trials within five years and full trials within another five so that in 10 years people with heart failure would have a brighter future," says the BHF's medical director, Professor Peter Weissberg.

Stem cells, for example, offer hope because they have the potential to turn into any specialist cell. Scientists think they can harness stem cells from elsewhere in the patient's body to repair damaged heart muscle – or find out what can trigger stem cells already present in the heart to repair themselves. read more.

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
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South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

Friday, October 28, 2011

Teen who smoked synthetic marijuana dies

This 'designer drug' destroyed the 14-year-old's lungs and led to his untimely death. Be on the lookout for brand names such as K2, Spice, Blaze, Ivory Wave, White Rush, Starry Nights and Vanilla Sky -- in hopes that yours or other children will not be harmed.
The drug is sold on the Internet in 50- to 500-milligram packets for $25 to $75 each. The drug can cause seizures, vomiting, high blood pressure, heart problems and psychological problems such as paranoia, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

By Richard Gazarik, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

A Westmoreland County boy who underwent a double-lung transplant after synthetic marijuana smoked in a PEZ candy dispenser destroyed his lungs died Thursday in Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville.

Tonya Rice of Tarrs said her son, Brandon, 14, died at 8:21 a.m. -- exactly one month after the transplant -- from an infection that his compromised immune system could not stave off.

In the days since Brandon fell ill in June, she, her husband, Raymond; and their two other children maintained a constant vigil at his bedside.

"I never left him since June 14. Me and dad both," Tonya Rice said. "It was hard, very hard. He couldn't talk to us. We had to read his lips. A lot of times we couldn't understand what he was saying. He fought and fought and fought."

During that time, the Rice family has spoken out about the drug -- with brand names such as K2, Spice, Blaze, Ivory Wave, White Rush, Starry Nights and Vanilla Sky -- in hopes that other children will not be harmed.

A bill to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana in Pennsylvania was signed June 28 -- just weeks after the Southmoreland eighth-grader was placed on a respirator. More than 30 other states have banned the drug, and more are considering it.

Synthetic marijuana began appearing in Pennsylvania in 2008, according to officials from the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown.

The drug previously was sold as incense or herbal smoking blends in tobacco shops, gas stations and convenience stores.

A spokesman at the state Department of Health said the drug is so new that there are no statistics about the number of deaths resulting from its use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta also doesn't have nationwide statistics about deaths stemming from the drug.

Brandon, who marked his 14th birthday in the hospital Aug. 21, was described by his mother as a "smart and caring" boy who loved baseball and fishing.

Dr. J. Douglas Bricker, dean of Duquesne University's Mylan School of Pharmacy, said that although he doesn't underestimate the danger of the ingredients in the man-made designer drug, smoking synthetic marijuana in a plastic PEZ dispenser would have been a "significant factor" in Brandon's death.

"It's (the drug) fairly potent, but nothing in the literature has been shown to cause any lung toxicity," he said. But Bricker said plastic -- such as that found in the candy dispenser -- heated at high temperatures will release highly toxic cyanide gas and carbon monoxide.

The drug is sold on the Internet in 50- to 500-milligram packets for $25 to $75 each. The drug can cause seizures, vomiting, high blood pressure, heart problems and psychological problems such as paranoia, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Blood proteins predict survival in IPF (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis)

EurekAlert
Public release date: 25-Oct-2011
Contact: Anita Srikameswaran
SrikamAV@upmc.edu
412-578-9193
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 25 – A panel of blood proteins can predict which patients with the progressive lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) are likely to live at least five years or to die within two years, say researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Centocor R&D. The findings, published online last week in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, could help doctors determine those patients in imminent need of a lung transplant and those who can wait a while longer.

Fifty percent of IPF patients die within three years of diagnosis, but others will do well for long periods of time, explained investigator Naftali Kaminski, M.D., professor of medicine, pathology, human genetics and computational biology, Pitt School of Medicine, and director, The Dorothy P. & Richard P. Simmons Center for Interstitial Lung Disease at UPMC. In the disease, breathing becomes increasingly impaired as the lungs progressively scar.

"It's hard to tell based on symptoms alone which patients are in the greatest danger," Dr. Kaminski said. "This biomarker panel has predictive power that can guide our treatment plan. It may also help us design more effective research trials because we'll be able to better match experimental therapies with the most appropriate patients."

The research team collected blood samples from 241 IPF patients. They measured the levels of 92 candidate proteins in 140 patients and found that higher concentrations of five particular proteins that are produced by the breakdown of lung tissue predicted poor survival, transplant-free survival and progression-free survival regardless of age, sex and baseline pulmonary function. They then confirmed the results in a second group of 101 patients.

Based on both groups, the investigators developed the personal clinical and molecular mortality prediction index (PCMI) that incorporates the gender, lung functions and levels of one of the proteins, called MMP7, in the blood. Patients with a low PCMI were more likely to live more than 5 years while the median survival for patients with high PCMI scores was 1.5 years.

"This indicates that these blood biomarker levels are not just a reflection of current severity of the lung disease, but they are predictive of impending death," said lead author Thomas Richards, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine and head of the Simmons Center biostatistics team.

"They have the potential to greatly improve our treatment strategies for IPF, in part by showing us which patients have the most urgent need for lung transplant, which is currently the only cure for the disease," added senior author Kevin Gibson, M.D., medical director of the Simmons Center.

"These findings provide proof of the concept of personalized medicine. " noted Mark T. Gladwin, M.D., chief, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "We can use a combination of biological and clinical markers to determine the very best care for each patient.

Drs. Kaminski, Gibson and colleagues have research projects underway to better understand how the biomarkers change over time.

The team includes Kathleen O. Lindell, Ph.D., R.N., and others at the Simmons Center and Pitt School of Medicine, as well as researchers from Centocor R & D in Radnor, Pa.

Study results will be presented by Dr. Kaminski at the IPF session of the Pittsburgh International Lung Conference on Personalized Medicine of Lung Disease at 2:30 p.m. on October 28 and 29 at the Holiday Inn Pittsburgh University Center.

###
The project was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Centocor, and the Dorothy P. and Richard P. Simmons Endowed Chair for Pulmonary Research.

About the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

As one of the nation's leading academic centers for biomedical research, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine integrates advanced technology with basic science across a broad range of disciplines in a continuous quest to harness the power of new knowledge and improve the human condition. Driven mainly by the School of Medicine and its affiliates, Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1997.

Likewise, the School of Medicine is equally committed to advancing the quality and strength of its medical and graduate education programs, for which it is recognized as an innovative leader, and to training highly skilled, compassionate clinicians and creative scientists well-equipped to engage in world-class research. The School of Medicine is the academic partner of UPMC, which has collaborated with the University to raise the standard of medical excellence in Pittsburgh and to position health care as a driving force behind the region's economy. For more information about the School of Medicine, see www.medschool.pitt.edu.


“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The last, and lasting, legacy of Steve Jobs

One of the many legacies that Steve Jobs left was that his fame and connections enabled him to have a huge impact on organ and tissue donation in California.


Written by Union-Tribune Editorial Board
It’s universally known that the late Steve Jobs, the master designer of the digital revolution, touched millions, possibly billions, of minds.

What’s not so well known is the role Jobs played in saving the lives of Californians.

By late 2008, Jobs’ pancreatic cancer had advanced to the point where his only hope was a liver transplant. In California that year, 3,400 patients were waiting for a donated liver; 671 received one.

As Jobs would later concede, he was lucky. He had the means to go to Tennessee where the supply/demand ratio was in his favor. By the end of ‘09, Jobs was back on top of the business world.

But the near-death experience concentrated the mind of the apolitical Jobs. He turned into a champion for the sickest people on earth.

In December 2009, Jobs enlisted Maria Shriver to persuade her then-husband, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, to back legislation that would require Californians applying for a driver’s license or ID to answer yes or no to one of the most important moral questions of our time: Do you want to be an organ donor?

“Asking this one simple question,” Jobs said, “may double the number of transplant organs available in California – one simple question.”

Jobs envisioned a quantum leap from the current 30 percent donor registration rate at the DMV.

If that sounds like a healthy number of pink dots on licenses, it is. Nearly 9 million. But consider this unhealthy number: 20,000 Californians are waiting for an organ transplant.

Thanks to Jobs’ lobbying, Senate Bill 1395. authored by Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara, was signed into law by Schwarzenegger a year ago. It went into effect in June.

Also included in Alquist’s bill is a brave new venture that Jobs passionately endorsed: The creation of the first statewide living donor registry under the management of Donate Life California, the organization that oversees California’s after-death organ and tissue registry.

Still in the planning stage, California’s living registry will enroll altruistic individuals willing to give a kidney or portions of lung and liver so that others may live.

Last month, Donate Life California named Charlene Zettel as its first CEO. Zettel, a former assemblywoman and current regent of the University of California, lives in Encinitas. Lisa Stocks, also of Encinitas, is the president of Donate Life California’s board of directors.

As the world mourned the death of the amazing Steve Jobs, his last legacy was easy to overlook.

By the way, you don’t have to make a trip to the DMV to register as an after-death donor. You can join nearly 9 million other Californians by clicking on to www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to register in Jobs’ honor. There’s no cooler way to pay your respects.

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Heart-transplant patient survival rates on the rise, Ottawa Heart Institute study shows


By Pauline Tam, The Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — A long-term study of Canadian heart-transplant patients has found that survival rates have improved markedly, with the biggest gains being made within the past 10 years.

The study, which followed 461 patients at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute since 1984, found that as a result of medical advances over the past decade, nine out of 10 transplant patients now live longer than eight years.

The younger the patient at the time of the transplant, the more likely they are to live longer, the study concluded.

Dr. Marc Ruel, the study’s author, attributed the gains to improved pre-surgical and post-operative care, including the advent of anti-coagulant drugs that permanently thin a patient’s blood, removing the risk of life-threatening clots.

Patients are also being kept alive longer due to the improved management of organ rejection and infection following surgery.

“It’s better surgery, better medicine, better team work, better organ procurement organizations. Just every single step is better understood and has been optimized,” said Ruel, who’s surgical director of the heart transplant program at the heart institute.

The results of the study were presented Monday at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Vancouver.

Among the heart-institute patients who received transplants over the 25-year study period, nine out of 10 were still alive one year after they received a donated heart. An estimated eight out of 10 patients were alive five years later, six out of 10 a decade later and more than a third lived to see 20 years.

An international heart-transplant registry found that nearly seven out of 10 patients are still alive seven years after surgery, so the heart institute results compare favourably.

The oldest person to receive a donated heart during the study period was 74, and the youngest was three.

Transplants can be done after the age of 65 with good results, but doctors carefully screen patients to avoid those with significant kidney or liver illnesses that could compromise lifespan or quality of life, said Ruel.

Patients are considered candidates for transplant if they have exhausted all other available therapies and have less than a year to live. Nearly half of all transplant patients have heart failure due to some kind of genetic defect; the other half are patients who have survived multiple heart attacks and are living with end-stage heart disease.

An estimated 500,000 Canadians live with heart failure and 50,000 new patients are diagnosed each year. Last year, 167 Canadians received new hearts, while another 135 were on the waiting list.

Modern heart transplantation became available in 1980. Since then, survival rates have improved to the point where for every 10 transplants performed, two more patients survive longer than a decade, the study found.

The leading cause of death following a transplant is a condition called vasculopathy, a form of chronic rejection that narrows the blood vessels of the transplanted heart.

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ethics of an Organ Market

I am pleased to post this guest article by Elaine Hirsch.

Healthy organs are in short supply. For topics taught in phd programs in economics, the price for healthy organs would be dictated by the amount of demand compared to supply. Given the lack of supply, the amount people are willing to pay for healthy organs should skyrocket.

In reality, however, markets for organs are highly inelastic. Government regulations and social pressures prevent organs from being efficiently allocated. Willing patients are held on long transplant lists, while people willing to sell their organs are prohibited by law to do so. With political and social barriers to organ markets being the status-quo, revisiting the ethics behind the ideas of such markets will surely provide insight into a much-needed topic.

The idea of organ markets have been pioneered by academics and economists interested in improving efficiencies within the health care sector. For example, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, authors of the book series Freakonomics, have been vocal about increasing discussion about legalizing organ markets. Noting the ineffective methodology for organ transplants in the United States, the authors believe that “a free market in human organs would save thousands of lives a year”. Interestingly enough, a market for human organs does not necessarily involve the exchange of money; donors can be attracted with incentives such as being fast tracked to the front of the line if they are ever in dire need, increasing the circulation.

Gary Becker, a prominent behavioral psychologist, conducted a study which found that monetary incentives for healthy organs would decrease the long wait times of organ transplant lists without increasing the total costs of surgeries by more than 12%. In the study, Becker notes that greater incentives are needed for individuals to take the risks involved in donating organs.

Proponents of organ markets typically cite utilitarian results behind their reasoning. Incentives would increase the supply of organs, which would lower overall prices of organs, which would therefore save more lives in the long run.

Pessimists, on the other hand, argue that allowing markets dictate the supply of organs will lead to many inequities in the availability of organ transplants. Instead of being merit-based, organs will instead be given to people who can afford transplants and the surgeries that accompany them. For example, a 60 Minutes report highlighted an affluent Japanese businessman who obtained a liver transplant despite being lower on the transplant list than several patients who passed away.

There are obvious inefficiencies with today's transplant system. Many patients wait years for a healthy organs, which are only supplied when a perfect storm of accidents occurs at the expense of another's life or due to the good will of a perfect stranger. A market for transplants, however, allows incentives to skew where organs end up. With advantages and disadvantages that come with both extremes of organ transplants, what you do think is the best way to efficiently manage the market for organs?

About the author:
Elaine Hirsch is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. This makes it difficult to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites, including onlinephd.org and writing about all these things instead.

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

Friday, October 21, 2011

FIFTEEN years ago, Bernice Allan was a baby at death's door.

I never cease to be amazed at the wonders of organ donation and how wonderful the gift of a new life can be. We are so grateful and thankful to the donors and donor families who make it all possible. Sign up today!

Sweetest sixteenth - miracle girl Bernice Allan full of life

Full of life ... Bernice Allan, now 16
Pic: Tracee Lea Source: The Daily Telegraph

At death's door ... baby Bernice Allan, 9 months
Source: The Daily Telegraph

By Evelyn Yamine The Daily Telegraph (Australia)

At just nine months old, after being born with a damaged liver, her parents Kathleen and Darren were told Bernice had only 24 hours to live.

Then came the miracle.

The parents of a young baby who died suddenly donated a liver which matched Bernice and she was given a transplant, allowing her to live a life that seemed over just a day before.

This year is particularly special for Bernice. She celebrated her sweet 16th birthday in May and her best friend Steven McGinley, 14, shares another special "birthday" with her - her liver transplant day on February 14 each year. She also got her learner's licence and is now the family's designated driver, her mother joked, as she is not allowed to drink alcohol with her condition.

Bernice, who spent the first five years of her life in hospital, has had more than 70 operations.

She was a patient at what used to be named the New Children's Hospital at Westmead - now the Children's Hospital at Westmead - in 1996 when the liver became available and she had the life-changing operation at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Bernice suffers from deafness, the eye condition astigmatism and severe sleep apnea - all believed to be linked to her condition - but she doesn't let that stop her. In her home town of Moonta Bay, in South Australia, she goes to school, plays netball and has participated in four national Transplant Games, a World Transplant Games and has won numerous medals.

Transplant Australia CEO Chris Thomas said Bernice was just one of many recipients of organ transplants who could live a full life thanks to the generosity of organ donors.

"She is a very wonderful living proof of the benefits of organ and tissue donation and the importance of families having a discussion about becoming organ donors," Mr Thomas said.

But Mr Thomas said although five million people had either signed up on an organ register or ticked the box on licence registration forms, families should discuss the issue so the wishes of organ donors were carried out.

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Total Artificial Heart earns SynCardia "Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year"

SynCardia Honored by Arizona BioIndustry Association for "Doing the Most to Transform the World During the Last 12 Months"

TUCSON, AZ, Oct 18, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- On Oct. 13, SynCardia Systems, Inc. (www.syncardia.com), manufacturer of the world's only FDA, Health Canada and CE approved Total Artificial Heart, was named "Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year" by the Arizona BioIndustry Association (AZBio).

"The Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year Award recognizes the for-profit bioscience company whose Arizona-based operations did the most to transform the world during the last 12 months," said AZBio CEO Joan Koerber-Walker. "SynCardia makes it possible for patients awaiting donor hearts to not only survive the wait but also to do so with flexibility and mobility, a feat of biomedical engineering that is world-changing for these patients."

CAUTION - The Freedom(R) portable driver is an investigational device, limited by United States law to investigational use.

SynCardia designed, developed, and introduced the Freedom(R) portable driver, the world's first wearable power supply for the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart. For the first time in U.S. history, stable patients without human hearts are being discharged from the hospital to wait for a matching donor heart at home using the Freedom portable driver to power their Total Artificial Hearts. Weighing 13.5 pounds, the Freedom driver is CE approved for use in Europe and undergoing an FDA-approved Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) clinical study in the U.S.

Prior to the development of the Freedom driver, U.S. Total Artificial Heart patients were confined to the hospital for months, sometimes years, while they waited for a heart transplant because the only FDA-approved driver for powering the Total Artificial Heart is hospital-based "Big Blue" which weighs 418 pounds.

Life for a stable Total Artificial Heart patient confined to the hospital is emotionally, physically and financially draining for them, their family and the hospital. As wait times for a heart transplant continue to lengthen, the ability to discharge stable patients home is critical for both the patient and the hospital. Recovery at home improves patient quality of life while eliminating most in-hospital costs for this portion of patient care.

The other two finalists for the award were Calimmune, Inc., which is developing innovative cell-based therapies for treating HIV, and VisionGate, which has developed an automated 3D cell imaging platform to help detect lung cancer sooner.

AZBio is the state affiliate of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the preeminent national association for biotechnology companies, and of AdvaMed, the largest association representing manufacturers of medical devices, diagnostic products and medical information systems.

About the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart SynCardia Systems, Inc. (Tucson, AZ) is the privately-held manufacturer of the world's first and only FDA, Health Canada and CE approved Total Artificial Heart. Originally used as a permanent replacement heart, the Total is currently approved as a bridge to transplant for people dying from end-stage heart failure affecting both sides of the heart (biventricular failure). More than 950 implants account for more than 230 patient years of life.

Similar to a heart transplant, SynCardia's Total Artificial Heart replaces both failing heart ventricles and the four heart valves. It is the only device that eliminates the symptoms and source of end-stage biventricular heart failure and pumps up to 9.5 liters per minute through both ventricles. This high volume of safe blood flow helps speed the recovery of vital organs, helping make the patient a better transplant candidate.

Fast Company ranked SynCardia#20 among the World's 50 Most Innovative Companies "for giving mobility to artificial heart recipients."

Website: www.syncardia.com SynCardia on Facebook Twitter: @SynCardia SynCardia on LinkedIn

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Breakthrough in Diabetes Treatment

By Maria Hill technorati.com

There is new hope for diabetics, according to the Neural Stem Cell Transplant May Tackle Diabetes report on October 14, 2011. Researchers in Japan have found a way to regenerate the beta cells of the pancreas, which makes possible a long awaited cure to this devastating disease that affects as many as 200 million people on our planet. The research finding were published in EMBO Molecular Medicine on October 6.

Insulin dependent diabetics are plagued by insufficient insulin production in the pancreas, the organ responsible its production. The pancreas is a shaped like a fish and located behind the stomach in the abdomen. Insulin is produced by beta cells which are located in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. When the beta cells do not function, insulin injections are necessary since diabetes is a debilitating chronic disease with many serious and life threatening complications. Diabetes treatment has been hindered by the low donations of pancreatic beta cells to regenerate the beta cells.

Researchers in Japan have found a creative solution to the problem using neural stem cells. The research which was conducted at the AIST Institute in Tsukuba, Japan was led by Dr. Tomoko Kuwabara. Human stem cells can be differentiated which means that there is a process though which stem cells can be adapted to different cell replacement roles in the body. This technique is particularly useful for situations which target a single cell as in the case of diabetes. "As diabetes is caused by the lack of a single type of cell the condition is an ideal target for cell replacement treatments," said Kuwabara.

Image Credit: TopNewsHealth

The research transplanted cells from the hippocampus and olfactory bulb in the front of the brain into a diabetic rate. The cells then began to act like the beta cells of the pancreas. They produced insulin and when removed the rat's sugar levels rose again. Since these brain cells do not normally produce insulin, the results were a pleasant surprise because they demonstrated that the brain cells could be used as an effective treatment for diabetes.

Science Daily noted the encouraging peer response to the research results: "The discovery of stem cells which have virtually unlimited self-renewal raises great expectations for their use in regenerative medicine. The isolation and cultivation of stem cells as a renewable source of beta cells would be a major breakthrough," wrote Onur Basak and Hans Clevers, from the Hubrecht Institute for Development Biology and Stem Cell Research, in their close up paper, published in the same issue of EMBO Molecular Medicine.

Not only does this research provide great hope for diabetics but it also offers new hope for many others suffering from diseases created by non functioning cells like diabetes. It is truly a breakthrough which will be welcomed by many.

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

Monday, October 17, 2011

CF sufferer gets new lungs, new start and new husband

By Nikki Murfitt MailOnline

Stuart Tancock turned to watch his beautiful, fragile bride Kirstie Mills walk down the aisle knowing that every step could be her last. Just days before, she had been rushed to hospital, close to death. As a sufferer of the incurable genetic disease cystic fibrosis, her lungs had finally given up after years of recurrent infections.

Alongside the wedding rings in Stuart’s pocket was a letter stipulating that if the worst happened, and the woman he loved stopped breathing, it was her wish not to be resuscitated.

Brave bride: Kirstie, with the oxygen tubes that helped her breathe, and Stuart on their wedding day

‘We had a plan for every scenario. If Kirstie collapsed, I’d take her to the room we’d booked for our wedding night to die. I felt incredibly helpless. I was marrying Kirstie and vowing to protect her, yet there was nothing I could do to keep her alive,’ says Stuart, 26.

Yet it was the happiest moment of their young lives. Kirstie, 22, recalls: ‘Most people spend months planning their wedding but I imagine there are very few who have to plan their funeral at the same time. I had to walk up the aisle with an oxygen tank beside me. But despite everything, it was even more beautiful than I could ever have hoped. We didn’t know how long we’d have together – we still don’t – but it just made me more determined to keep fighting.’

Miraculously, Kirstie not only survived but, thanks to an 11th-hour lung transplant operation, is now looking forward to a long and happy married life.

The couple’s remarkable journey will be charted in a forthcoming BBC documentary that highlights the life-and-death lottery for transplants in Britain. Kirstie knows all too well that so many in her situation are not as lucky. ‘There’s a desperate need for donors and, unfortunately, being put on the list still means there’s a 50 per cent chance of dying,’ she says.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a disease that affects more than 8,500 people in Britain. Five babies are born with the condition every week. It is caused by a faulty gene that allows too much salt and not enough water into cells.

Loving life: Kirstie is now able to go to the gym for two hours a day

This results in a build-up of sticky mucus in the body’s passageways that damages the lungs, digestive system and other organs, resulting in inflammation and, in the lungs, repeated infections.

Kirstie’s parents, Richard Mills, 54, a maintenance engineer for the RAF, and Linda Freeman, 53, were unknowingly among Britain’s two million carriers of the faulty gene that increases a child’s chance of having CF to one in four.

There have been remarkable advances in treatment over the past 50 years, which means sufferers no longer die in childhood. And many babies born now with the disease – including former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s son Fraser, now five – may expect to live to their 60s. Yet only about half of CF patients will live beyond 35, and many will die far earlier.

Kirstie, who had trained as a fitness instructor, was one of the less fortunate. Having suffered infections in her lungs throughout her life, she had become resistant to antibiotics. By June this year, she was unable to breathe without the help of a CPAP machine, which pumps oxygen into the lungs via tubes in the nose.

Four days before her wedding, Kirstie was rushed to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital as her lungs failed. She pulled through and was able to make the journey to her wedding venue in an ambulance.

Three days after marrying, Kirstie was back in hospital and doctors admitted there was nothing more they could do. For patients with such severe lung damage, a transplant is the only hope. Although Kirstie had been on the waiting list since March, a suitable donor hadn’t been found.

Instead she was taken by air ambulance to Harefield Hospital, Middlesex, where she was given treatment known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), in which a special machine is used to oxygenate the blood, bypassing the lungs.

‘I was in agony just trying to take a breath,’ recalls Kirstie. ‘I’d been given morphine but I knew I was dying. As I got into the air ambulance, I remember whispering to my mum, “This is pretty much it.” She hugged me and we said goodbye. I’m not sure either of us thought I’d be alive when she saw me again.’

Three days after she arrived at Harefield, surgeons told Kirstie they had a lung donor. But within two hours of being prepped for the operation, she was told the organs were too large. Another match was ruled out when it was discovered the lungs were infected.

Kirstie admits: ‘The disappointment drained everything out of me. I kept going into respiratory arrest. If I was ventilated, there was a risk my diaphragm would become paralysed because a machine was breathing for me and if that happened, there was no chance of a transplant.’

Her family, including Stuart, had virtually given up hope when at the start of July they were told there was a donor match. Kirstie says: ‘Most of the run-up to the transplant is a blur. The next thing I remember is waking up in agony. Even worse, for the first couple of days I was still on a ventilator so I worried I couldn’t make my lungs work.

‘I felt guilty that someone had died to give me life when I’d accepted dying anyway.’

Stuart was elated that his new wife had been given a second chance. ‘She looked instantly better,’ he remembers. ‘The surgeon told me her old lungs were the worst he’d seen in six years. By rights she should have died, but Kirstie is a fighter.’

Kirstie continues: ‘My muscles had become so weakened lying in bed that I couldn’t lift my head. The ECMO treatment had made my body swell. I was semi-sedated a lot of the time and started having hallucinations.

‘I was given anti-depressants, which I’m still taking, to help me cope with everything, including having to learn to walk again because I’d become so weak.

‘The big turning point came four weeks after my operation when I was able to walk up the stairs on my own again for the first time and was discharged.’

Her new lung function is now 74 per cent, which will improve as her strength and fitness builds. ‘I go to the gym two hours a day and I’m hoping I’ll be running on a treadmill by the end of the year,’ says Kirstie.

At first she had to take more than 45 tablets a day, but this has been reduced to 15.

She cannot eat prawns, pâté or smoked, uncooked meat because of the risk it could lead to an infection. But to look at Kirstie now, it is impossible to imagine she was hours from death.

Stuart admits he had never considered signing a donor card until he met Kirstie, but he now has one and hopes her story will encourage others to get one.

The couple have decided not to have children, not only because there is a risk of passing on CF but because they want to make the most of their new life together. The longest-surviving lung transplant patient has lived for 15 years after the operation.

‘We are just happy with life having been through so much,’ says Kirstie. ‘During all the terrible times, Stuart was the greatest thing in my life.’

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

Friday, October 14, 2011

Breakthrough heart pump spares teen a transplant

Portable machine allows girl to lead active life



Kolby Zanier, 14, here with her parents Barry and Aileen on Thursday, holds a battery-operated controller that runs her heart pump. She recently became the first pediatric patient in Canada to receive a revolutionary new heart pump at Stollery Children's Hospital.
Photograph by: Ed Kaiser, The Journal, Edmonton Journal

BY JODIE SINNEMA, EDMONTON JOURNAL

Kolby Zanier carries her heart around in her purse.

At first, it felt a little heavy on her shoulder, at just over two kilograms with a controller and batteries and spares, all connected to the human organ by cable through a hole in her belly.

But the 14-year-old is getting used to its weight, especially since it allows her to go home to Rossland, B.C., attend Grade 10, even run or play volleyball if she chooses. Swimming is out and contact sports would be iffy.

Kolby is the first pediatric patient in Canada - and likely the third in North America - to receive a HeartWare pump, a device patched into the bottom part of her severely damaged left ventricle. It pumps blood from the heart chamber through a tube directly into her aorta, which circulates blood through her body.

Until Kolby came along to try the new device, children with failed hearts like hers either needed a heart transplant - Kolby's heart was in such bad shape she couldn't wait any longer for a suitable donor heart - or a Berlin heart, a bulkier device created 20 years ago that often requires patients to stay in hospital up to one year because of life-threatening complications. It even makes taking showers an ordeal because of its external machinery.

The Berlin heart saves lives, but within two to four months of implantation, patients have a 20-to 30-per-cent risk of strokes caused by blood clots, said Dr. Holger Buchholz, director of the pediatric artificial heart program at Stollery Children's Hospital, which accepts complex pediatric heart patients from Western Canada.

The risk with the new HeartWare pump is far lower at three to five per cent.

The small pump has been approved in Europe for adult patients, but when Kolby came along, Buchholz said he received quick approval from Health Canada to implant the promising device into her since it was such a good fit.

It came as a surprise to Kolby and her parents, even though Kolby was born with a congenital heart defect due to a rare genetic disease called Alstrom syndrome. That syndrome also affects her sight and hearing.

But when she and her parents arrived in Edmonton for two days of appointments July 18, they were told Kolby was so sick she couldn't leave.

Her heart was failing - pumping about five to 10 per cent of the normal flow - as were her lungs, kidney and stomach. Doctors drained 20 kilograms of extra liquid that had built up in her sick, tired body.

Six weeks in hospital didn't improve Kolby's heart. The wait for a heart transplant could have killed her.

On Aug. 28, Dr. Ivan Rebeyka spent five hours inside Kolby's chest, sewing in the heart pump.

"I wasn't very happy," Kolby said. "I've always been not very healthy, but that's, like, my normal.

"I didn't think I was so bad and then I was, like, 'Why do I need this?' But I guess I did."

Buchholz said Kolby's new heart system is now feeding her body more blood than it's had in the past five years.

"I can do a lot more and I'm not so tired, so that's really good," Kolby said.

Within a week, she hopes to be back home in B.C. to her friends, two older sisters and her dog Mister. In the meantime, she and her parents are being trained how to keep her heart's battery charged and its controller - or the brain of the heart - safe in her satchel.

"We're almost home and can see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Kolby's father, Barry Zanier. "We're thrilled."

The batteries last about five hours, but can be charged in a car lighter socket during the 10-hour drive home.

Kolby also knows to ensure the external cable or machine doesn't get snagged or caught in a door.

"At this point, Kolby doesn't want a transplant," Buchholz said. "I think she wants to go home, wants to be a little bit like a normal child, go back to school, think about what all happened in the last few months and then reconsider this."

Buchholz said the pump will keep Kolby happy for five to 10 years before she needs to consider putting her name on the heart transplant list, compared to the three to six months most patients are attached to the Berlin heart. And while the Berlin heart is only used as a lastditch emergency measure for very sick people, Buchholz said the Heart-Ware pump can be used sooner to prevent people from reaching that stage.

"The overall risk is much, much lower, plus the quality of life is much, much higher," he said. "The Berlin is a good device, but times are changing and I think this is the future of the devices. . In the end, our hope is one day we don't need Berlin hearts at all anymore and we have much better devices even for the babies."

Buchholz said the HeartWare pump is currently in regulatory stages of approval for use in Canada.

"It's a big change," he said, and could be even more revolutionary if a company succeeds in building a device where all the parts are internal.

"I think right now, it's still a bridge to transplant, but I hope in the next 10 years we will actually see devices where everything is inside. It would then be an alternative to transplantation."

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Irish aeromedical center will not open on time

By MARY MINIHAN The Irish Times

AN AEROMEDICAL center proposed after Leitrim teenager Meadhbh McGivern missed out on a transplant operation in July will not be ready by the recommended date of today.

The Health Service Executive has confirmed the 24-hour National Aeromedical Co-ordination Centre was not yet in place, but “the work that the center will carry out is currently being done across two sites”.

The 14-year-old Leitrim girl returned to Ireland on Monday after a successful liver transplant at King’s College Hospital, London, last month.

A new system to co-ordinate the transfer of patients abroad for emergency medical procedures was put in place after opportunities to transport the teenager to London in time for a long-awaited operation in July were missed after communications blunders.

A report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), which found no individual or agency was in charge, recommended the establishment of an aeromedical center. It was due to have been set up by today.

A spokeswoman for the Health Service Executive said it and other parties involved, including the Defense Forces, Coast Guard and Crumlin children’s hospital, had worked “vigorously” since the publication of the Hiqa report to give effect to its recommendations.

“A good deal of progress has been made in relation to the implementation of the recommendations of the report. This is supported by the fact that a number of patients have been transferred successfully recently, including one last night,” she said.

“In relation specifically to the establishment of a 24-hour National Aeromedical Co-ordination Centre, the HSE can confirm that this is not yet in place but that the work that the center will carry out is currently being done across two sites.

“An oversight group comprised of all parties is now in place, processes have been established and are working well, and once staff are recruited we will proceed to the full establishment of the center,” she added.

Meanwhile, a Hiqa spokeswoman said it expected the center to be established within two months as set out in the recommendations of its inquiry.

Joe McGivern, father of the teenager, said he hoped the center would be operational very shortly. “I hope that the delay won’t be too lengthy. I’d like to think it would be up and running sooner rather than later,” he said.

Speaking from Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, where his daughter is recuperating, Mr McGivern said: “Meadhbh is doing fine. She’s in good shape and that’s the important thing.”

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Transplant Method May Eliminate Need for Lifelong Medication

FoxNews.com
A new technique for organ transplants may eliminate the need for lifelong anti-rejection drugs after surgery, according to a recent study.

Stock photo
Johns Hopkins researchers have developed a way to stimulate stem cells in rats after a liver transplant as a means of preventing rejection of the new organ without the need for immunosuppressant drugs.

Anti-rejection medicines carry serious side effects and are a major obstacle to long-term survival of people who require organ transplants.

The study found that a combination of two drugs lengthened survival time and prevented liver rejection in rodents. One drug was a low dose of tacrolimus, which prevented immediate rejection of the transplant, and the other was plerifaxor, which freed the recipient's stem cells from the bone marrow.

The bone marrow cells freed by plerifaxor then traveled to the damaged liver and repopulated it with the recipients’ own cells, replacing the donor cells that cause rejection. The stem cells also appeared to control immune response by increasing the amount of regulatory T-cells.

Essentially, the scientists said they transformed the donor liver from a foreign object under attack by the immune system into an organ tolerated by the body within three months of the surgery.

And – the rats only had to take the medications for one week after the transplant.

The researchers are also testing the method on other transplanted organs, including kidneys, in rats and other larger animals. They hope to begin testing in humans within a few years.

"It is the dream for all scientists in the transplant field to erase the need for lifelong immunosuppressant drugs," said Dr. Zhaoli Sun, an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

"Currently, if a patient survives for 10 or 20 years with a new liver, that organ is still seen as foreign inside its new body because immunosuppression puts blinders on the immune system that must stay on to prevent rejection. Our idea was to find a way to turn that organ into something that 'belongs' and is never at risk of rejection."

The study was published in the American Journal of Transplantation.

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Liver transplant gives child a new tomorrow

MyCentralJersey.com
Two years ago, Kayleigh Petersen of East Brunswick and her family faced an uncertain future.

What a difference two years can make.

At Kayleigh’s 18-month check-up, her parents received unexpected news. Her liver was swollen and the pediatrician sent her to a local hospital for an emergency ultrasound.

After a week of tests and a liver biopsy, Kayleigh was sent to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for further testing.

On March 9, 2009, Rich and Mary Petersen were told Kayleigh had been diagnosed with Tyrosinemia Type 1, a fatal genetic disorder that affects one in 100,000 babies.

Kayleigh was placed on a rare medication, a special formula to replace her milk, and a strict low-protein, low-fat, low-phenylalanine diet.

The hope was the combination of these treatments would reverse the damage the disorder had done to her liver.

It did not work and Kayleigh struggled with cirrhosis of the liver. She became malnourished from the diet and needed a liver transplant to survive.

The Petersen family also needed financial assistance for Kayleigh’s impending liver transplant and ongoing medical care.

They heard about the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) and decided to seek COTA’s guidance and support.

On June 8, 2009, the Petersens received the call they had been waiting for. They packed their bags and headed to Philadelphia. The next day, Kayleigh received her new liver — and her second chance at life.

Kayleigh was released from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia 13 days later, and spent the summer recovering and regaining her strength.

Aside from a cold or two, and a bout of possible rejection, Kayleigh has made remarkable post-transplant progress.

The Children’s Organ Transplant Association is a national charity that provides fundraising assistance to transplant families. Since 1986, COTA has worked to ensure that no child or young adult is denied a transplant or excluded from a transplant waiting list due to lack of funds. The charity uses 100 percent of all funds raised in honor of transplant patients for transplant-related expenses.

For more information about organ donation, or to find a COTA family in your area, email kim@cota.org.

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Columbus Day & Happy Canadian Thanksgiving


Best wishes today to my American friends as you celebrate the arrival of Columbus to the new world in 1492 and to my Canadian friends as you celebrate Thanksgiving Day. I hope you enjoy the BBQs, parades and family get together's. We have much to be thankful for and my thoughts are with those, such as myself, whose lives have been saved by an organ transplant and today is a perfect time to honor and thank our donors and donor families for giving us a second chance at life.


“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Friday, October 07, 2011

Steve Jobs' Pancreatic Cancer Likely Cause of Death Despite Successful Transplant


By Lauren N. Johnson Business & Health
Apple CEO Steve Jobs, 56, deemed irreplaceable by millions of fans of the operating system, died on Wednesday due to his long battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer, beginning in 2004, when he underwent transplant surgery for it.

Jobs, who resigned as Apple's CEO in August, is said to have changed the course of personal computing during two stints at Apple that transformed the mobile market.

The circumstances of his passing were unclear, but many believe that Jobs' death was caused by his battle with aggressive cancer and other health issues.

"The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come," Microsoft co-founder and long-time rival Bill Gates, told Reuters.

Jobs, a college dropout, reportedly traveled through India in search of spiritual guidance prior to founding Apple, a name he suggested to his friend and co-founder Steve Wozniak after a visit to a commune in Oregon he referred to as an "apple orchard."

"For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it's been an insanely great honor," Gates added.

Fans and supporters flocked to Apple stores to pay the innovative thinker respect and honor Jobs' "dent" made in technology industry. Jobs' family thanked many for their prayers during the last year of Steve's illness.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), some pancreatic cancer patients can have their tumors surgically removed or cured.

Although, in more than 80 percent of patients the tumor has already spread and cannot be completely removed at the time of diagnosis.

In 2004, Jobs' tumor was removed in a successful procedure, however, the malignancy had spread beyond the pancreas and, in 2009, Jobs took another leave of absence to undergo a liver transplant.

Finally, he took his third leave of absence in January of this year, before resigning as CEO in August.

With a very low survival rate of four percent, pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the U.S., as well as across the world, according to the NIH.

And 95 percent of those diagnosed with this cancer will not be alive five years later.

There are two known types of pancreatic cancer - adenocarcinoma and neuroendocrine tumor. Jobs was affected by the latter, an extremely rare form with a prevalence rate of 35 affected patients per 100,000.

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You