Netherlands Man Suffering from Alcoholism Approved for Euthanasia

In an article dated November 30, 2016, The Washington Times reported that a forty-one-year-old man, Mark Langedijk, was recently approved to be euthanized in the Netherlands —pursuant to a law enacted to allow mercy killing for those undergoing unbearable suffering —due to his his struggle with alcoholism. The man had reportedly tried going to rehabilitative facilities twenty-one times, without success, and simply did not want to live anymore. Requests such as this must be reviewed and approved by a board of physicians.

From The Washington Times, “Mark Langedijk, Dutch Man, Euthanized Over Alcoholism”

Excerpt from article:

“Langedijk’s death demonstrates that Holland is a ‘dangerous place to have any physical or mental illness, to be struggling with any life challenges, or just to differ from what they might call normal.’”

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How Long is Too Long? Medical Interns Soon to Be Working Much Longer Hours

The current rules state that medical interns cannot work longer than 16 consecutive hours. This rule is in place to prevent accidents and mistakes as a result of fatigue. Recently, The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has proposed a change that would allow interns to work almost twice as long, for 28 hours without a break. The Council argues that this change would help expose interns to real-life practice. However, opponents of the rule argue that allowing these long hours is a severe risk to patients.

From npr.org, “Medical Interns Could Work Long Without A Break Under New Rule”

Excerpt from article:

“For years, medical interns have been limited to working no more than 16 hours without a break to minimize the chances they would make mistakes while fatigued. But that restriction could soon be eased.”

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Cuba Discovers Cancer Treatment, Yet Embargo Keeps It Out of Reach for U.S. Patients

The fast-growing biotechnology industry in Cuba has created a new cancer drug called Cimavax. The drug targets epidermal growth cells and allows the body to attack the cancer on its own. Cancer patients who use the drug are expected to live 3 to 5 months longer.  Yet, patients in the United States have limited access to the new treatment. The United States has imposed a trade embargo on Cuba that prevents the importation of goods such as medication and, therefore,  requires patients to travel to Cuba in order to receive the new treatment.

From NYTimes.com, “A Souvenir Smuggled Home From Cuba: A Cancer Vaccine”

Excerpt from article:

“The trial could take years, but American cancer patients are not waiting. Over the past couple of years, dozens have slipped into Havana and smuggled vials of the vaccine in refrigerated lunchboxes back to the United States, sometimes not even telling their doctors. Talk about Cimavax on cancer patient networks online has been escalating steadily as relations between the two countries have warmed and more patients are making preparations to go…”

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Tags: Cancer, Treatment, News, Research

Colorado Voters Speak on the Legalization of “Medical Aid in Dying”

Through a ballot initiative in last week’s election, Colorado became the fifth state to pass a “medical aid in dying” proposition.  Two-thirds of Colorado voters supported Proposition 106, which permits adults suffering from terminal illness, who have less than six months to live and are mentally competent, to self-administer a lethal dose of doctor-prescribed sleeping medication.  Opponents were concerned that the proposition lacks adequate safeguards, such as requiring a doctor to be present when the medication is administered. Yet, an overwhelming majority of voters supported the proposition, explaining that they have watched loved ones suffer through a terminal illness and believe they should have at least had the option to end their life with dignity.

From The Denver Post, “Colorado Passes Medical Aid in Dying, Joining Five Other States

Excerpt from article:

“Now we know that Coloradans believe that offering the option of medical aid in dying is the kind, compassionate, safe and just thing to do.”

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Selective Abortions for Women Carrying Multiple Fetuses Now Legal in Norway

In an article dated October 18, 2016, it was reported that “selective reduction”—the practice of aborting one or more healthy fetuses in a multifetal pregnancy while leaving another intact—is now legal in Norway. While proponents of the procedure say that selective reduction should not be thought of any differently than any other abortion procedure, opponents claim that the procedure should not be performed if the fetus is healthy, exposes the remaining fetus to unnecessary risks, and may lead to “abortion tourism” due to its unavailability in neighboring countries.

From The Independent, “Norway Allows Foreign Women Pregnant with Twins to Have Selective Abortions”

Excerpt from article:

“Dr Birgitte Heiberg Kahrs, a specialist in fetal medicine at St Olav’s Hospital in Oslo said: ‘We have not found any medical benefit from this. On the contrary, it exposes the second child in the womb to danger as the abortion risk increases.’”

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Removing Fetal Tumors In Utero

According to an October 20, 2016 article, a doctors in Texas removed a sacrococcygeal teratoma (a rare tumor found on the tailbone of a newborn) from a fetus by removing the fetus from the womb, performing the surgery and then placing the fetus back into the mother’s womb. The surgery was important for the mother because she had lost the fetus’s twin during her second trimester. Without the surgery, the fetus would compete with the tumor for blood supply and may have grown increasingly ill before birth. The child was born after a full-term pregnancy, begging the question: was the baby born twice?

From Cnn.com, “Meet the baby who was born twice”

Excerpt from article:

“As Cass describes it, first their obstetrician tells them there’s something wrong and then they’re told there’s nothing that can be done and their babies will die and then a surgeon tells them there’s something that can be done. Amazingly, some end with a healthy baby.”

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Transgender Men Fighting Breast Cancer: The Difficulties in Accessing Care

In an article dated October 16, 2016, Eli Oberman, a transgender man discusses the social and medical difficulties he faced when diagnosed with breast cancer, including discrimination by health care providers. There are roughly 1.4 million transgender individuals in the United States and only recently has the federal government lifted the ban on Medicare coverage for transgender healthcare. New York State lifted a similar ban under its Medicaid program. However, there is still a lack of trust in health care providers among the transgender community, and a lack of knowledge of transgender health care needs among the medical community, that create barriers to accessing much needed health care.

From NYTimes.com, “Living as a Man, Fighting Breast Cancer: How Trans People Face Care Gaps”

Excerpt from article:

During one procedure, when Mr. Oberman had his shirt off, a male technician, seeing that he was transgender, exclaimed: “Why would you do this to yourself? It’s disgusting.”

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Should Individuals who Donate their DNA and Other Biological Samples to Research Have Control Over How their Samples are Used?

An article dated, October 10, 2016, explained the growing “biorights” movement and the issues that arise when individuals refuse to donate their biological samples for free and/or demand control over how researchers can use their samples. Much of this controversy stems from the case of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were taken without her consent or compensation and were used for decades in research that resulted in major medical discoveries. Many individuals believe they have a right to control their biological samples even after they are donated. However, researchers are concerned that this biorights movement will hinder medical advances by reducing the availability of samples they need to conduct research that can potentially make vast impacts on public health and welfare.

From the Boston Globe, “‘Biorights’ Rise: Donors Demand Control of Their Samples

Excerpt from article:

No longer are patients or donors like O’Connor remaining passive when it comes to providing blood, saliva, or tissue samples used for research — samples that are used to help researchers find treatments that can earn drug makers millions, or even billions, of dollars.

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Long-Term Birth Control Becoming Popular Among North Carolina, Colorado Teens

An article dated October 6th, 2016 discusses the use of long-term, reversible contraception among young women in North Carolina and Colorado. Long-term contraception is endorsed by multiple medical organizations, and experts say that it is 99% effective. Despite this, young women in the United States are more reluctant to use this form of birth control than are their peers in other developed nations. In North Carolina and Colorado, however, long-term contraception is gaining traction among young women and teens. Healthcare providers in North Carolina clinics underwent training to learn about long-term contraceptives, and Colorado has been subsidizing the cost of them. Due to their success in lowering teen pregnancy and abortion, the Department of Health and Human Services suggests that this form of contraception should become more accessible to potential users.

From npr.org, “Long-Term, Reversible Contraception Gains Traction with Young Women”

Excerpt from article:

By using effective contraception to space out their children, teens and other young women can help reduce the risk of delivering a premature or low-birth-weight baby, research shows. And preventing unplanned pregnancies can be ‘essential to a woman’s long-term physical and emotional well-being,’ according to HHS.”

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First 3-Parent Baby Born in Mexico, Setting Off Regulatory and Ethical Concerns

According to an article published by CNN, dated September 28, 2016, on April 6, a baby was born with DNA from three people by using a new technique called “spindle nuclear transfer.” A team of doctors from New York went to Mexico to conduct the procedure since the Food and Drug Administration has not approved spindle nuclear transfer in the United States. Some are saying that this baby is the first to be born through this procedure, but critics state that the procedure produced children in the “1990s/early 2000s before the FDA” began to regulate it.

From Cnn.com, “Controversial 3-parent baby technique produces a boy”

Excerpt from article:

While in the past, the procedure was used to help women conceive and give birth to healthy babies in cases of infertility, the new version was created to tackle a specific problem: mitochondrial mutations.

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