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Bringing life back to a dead heart, and new hope for ailing patients

by kenya-tribune
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By GERRY LOUGHRAN
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A new drug for people who bleed uncontrollably, restarting a dead heart to give life to dying patients … thank God that amidst all the horrors of modern society, clever and dedicated scientists continue to bring hope to the lives of the stricken.

Christopher Stephens, aged two, has Haemophilia A. His body lacks a protein that makes blood clot, meaning that a simple graze can cause the boy to bleed without stopping.

To avoid this, a drug is introduced into his bloodstream every few days via a tube in his chest, a distressing procedure for a two-year-old.

But now a new therapy has been invented which will dispense with such a process. It is a medication that imitates the action of the missing protein.

It can be injected weekly or fortnightly, just under the skin rather than into a vein.

Christopher’s mother, Christy, told the BBC her son coped well with his haemophilia but sometimes he would say, “Mummy, don’t hurt me,” when she injected him. “That just kills you as a parent,” she said.

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Haemophilia A is a genetic condition which usually affects boys and men. There are about 1,800 such patients in England living with the condition, who will now be open to the new treatment.

In the case of organ transplants, most procedures take place after a potential donor has been declared brain dead but the heart is still beating.

A new procedure has now been developed which involves taking a heart which has stopped beating, restarting it and implanting it in a recipient’s chest.

Developed through ground-breaking work by medical scientists in Cambridgeshire, the procedure is carried out by only seven hospitals in Britain.

Officials estimate that the new form of transplantation could increase the number of heart transplants by 20 per cent. It is already used with kidneys and livers.

The latest beneficiary of the new procedure is Kenneth Morris, aged 65, who was put on the urgent transplant list after long-standing heart conditions worsened suddenly.

Two years later, Kenneth received a call from the transplant coordinator at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle that a heart was available.

It was the first time surgeons at this hospital had used a restarted heart, but the five-hour procedure went without a hitch.

Said Kenneth, an armed forces veteran: “I feel extremely blessed to be the first person to have this treatment at Newcastle. It is a privilege.”

Mr Asif Shah, the cardiothoracic consultant who was the lead surgeon on the operation, said, “We are delighted with Kenneth’s progress. His transplant was a great success and he was discharged five weeks later.”

I still shudder when I think of it. I was waiting at a bus stop on a busy road when I spotted a young woman walking through the traffic, head down, eyes glued to her mobile phone.

The result was inevitable – a taxi, unable to see her until the last minute, hit her straight on.

I never discovered how badly the woman was hurt or what the outcome was for the driver, but if ever there was a case of the pedestrian being at fault, this was it.

The memory came back to me when I read of a one-day experiment to introduce “mobile lanes”, special pathways for phone users, in Manchester.

Two 80-metre-long strips were laid out in a pedestrians-only part of the city for the exclusive use by phone users.

The trial was staged after research showed that 60 per cent of people polled said they had been bumped into by phone users.

AO Mobile, which arranged the experiment, said it showed that mobile lanes were “a first step to a safer experience”.

There is a big difference between people bumping into each other and motor vehicles bumping into people, but if the idea can be developed, walking through busy cities could become a much less fraught experience than it sometimes is.

The teacher told her class of six-year-olds it would be nice if they all drew a picture of whoever they loved most. Eagerly, the children set to work.

Pauline told the teacher she was drawing her dad because he was the best daddy in the world. Johnny said his picture showed his mother because she was so kind, and Eric drew his kitten, Sooty.

When the teacher asked Mabel who she was drawing, she said, “God.” But, said the teacher, “Nobody knows what God looks like.” Responded Mabel, “They will when I’ve finished.”

Albert Einstein explains his famous Theory of Relativity: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. If he sits on a hot stove for a minute, it seems like an hour. That’s relativity.”

Notice in a New York delicatessen: “Please don’t criticise the coffee. You may be old and weak yourself someday.”

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