Hungary to offer free government IVF to reverse declining population

Hungary has taken a dramatic step to reverse its below-replacement birth rate: it has nationalised six IVF clinics and plans to offer citizens completely free fertility treatment. The government’s long-term goal is to raise the current birth rate from 1.48 per woman to 2.1 by 2030.

Hungary, like many European countries, is suffering from demographic decline, but the anti-immigration stand of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government precludes increasing the population by allowing foreigners to settle there.

According to official statistics, fewer and fewer children are born in Hungary every year. The most recent figures show that 74,064 children were born… MORE

Testicle transplant opens up new medical markets

A Serbian-US surgical team transplanted a testicle from an identical twin to a 36-year-old man born without testes in December.

The surgery was performed at the University Children’s Clinic in Belgrade. Because they have the same genetic make-up, there will be no need for the recipient to take immune-suppressant drugs.

The surgeons were unable to connect the vas deferens, which transports sperm out of the testicles. If the recipient would like to father children, it might be possible to do this later. Sperm could also be harvested from the testicle or the twin’s sperm could be used.

This is the… MORE

Canada becomes world leader in organ donation after euthanasia

Although Canada was a late starter in legalising euthanasia (or Medical Aid in Dying) in 2016, more than a decade after Belgium and the Netherlands, it has become a leader in combining it with organ donation. Ontario is the first jurisdiction in the world “to proactively reach out to those who had been approved for assisted death to discuss donation”, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

“When a death is imminent, whether through a hospital or MAiD, Trillium [the organisation which oversees organ donation] must by law be notified.”

“The decision to pursue MAiD is totally separate from the decision… MORE

Chinese scientist who modified human genome jailed for three years

He Jiankui

A Chinese researcher who modified the human genome and boasted about it at an international conference in Hong Kong more than a year ago was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 3 million yuan (about US$430,000) in late December. He Jiankui was found guilty of illegally carrying out human embryo gene-editing intended for reproduction, in which three genetically edited babies were born.

According to the official Chinese newsagency Xinhua, He Jiankui, a former associate professor with the Southern University of Science and Technology, and two others were convicted of illegal medical practice.… MORE

Huge Australian genetic screening study launched

 Rachael and Jonathan with their daughter Mackenzie, who died in 2017 from the severe genetic condition spinal muscular atrophy

A huge genetic screening test has been launched in Australia, testing 10,000 couples for more than 700 severe and deadly diseases they could potentially pass onto their children.

The  Australian Reproductive Genetic Carrier Screening Project, or Mackenzie’s Mission, as it has been dubbed by the media, is a research project in which couples will be offered screening. Couples will also be tested for conditions where early treatment can improve a child’s health.

Couples will only be… MORE

We know about wanted abortions. What about the unwanted ones?

Past controversies over the Golden Globes have revolved around boycotts, or the sobriety of the presenter, or offensive jokes. This year Michelle Williams, who won an award for best actress, set Twitter alight with her acceptance speech about abortion. She declared that she couldn’t have had a successful career unless she had been able to abort her child.

‘I’ve tried my very best to live a life of my own making and not just a series of events that happened to me, but one that I can stand back and look at and recognise my handwriting all… MORE

London clinic claims first baby gestated in two wombs

Donna and Jasmine Francis-Smith with their son Otis

Unlike the sameness of natural conception, innovation in the IVF industry is never-ending. In the latest development, a London clinic and a Swiss medical device company, Anecova, have  created the first baby gestated in two wombs.

Lesbian couple Donna and Jasmine Francis-Smith underwent the procedure at London Women’s Clinic. Donna’s eggs were placed inside a miniature capsule together with donor sperm and inserted into her womb for 18 hours until fertilisation took place. The embryo was then retrieved and placed in Jasmine’s womb. According to Anecova,… MORE

Trump Administration’s ‘conscience rule’ blocked by federal judge

A federal judge this week voided the Trump administration’s “conscience rule,” which had made it easier for health care workers to avoid helping with abortion or other medical procedures on religious or moral grounds.

"Wherever the outermost line where persuasion gives way to coercion lies, the threat to pull all HHS funding here crosses it," said US District Judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan.

He said that the rule would have let the Department of Health and Human Services to withhold billions from healthcare providers that did not comply.

Engelmayer also wrote that the “stated justification for undertaking rule-making in the… MORE

US researchers trial deep brain stimulation for opioid use

Gerod Buckhalter being wheeled into surgery  

A West Virginia-based research team has launched the first American clinical trial of deep brain stimulation for patients suffering from treatment-resistant opioid use.

They successfully implanted a Medtronic DBS device in the addiction and reward centre of the brain of Gerod Buckhalter, a 33-year-old man who has struggled with substance use disorder, specifically excessive opioid and benzodiazepine use, for more than a decade. He has had many overdoses and relapses.

West Virginia has the highest age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving opioids. In 2017, drug overdose deaths involving opioids in… MORE

Who ‘pulls the plug’ for an abused child?

Gabriella's parents, Brittany Rodriquez and Andrew Lamorie 

The question of who is authorised to “pull the plug” on severely brain-damaged patients is always controversial. A case in Arizona shows how complex and unsettling it can be.

In January 2018 two-year-old Gabriella Lamorie died from blunt-force head and neck trauma. She was also suffering from severe malnutrition and weighed less than half the standard body weight for a child of her age.

Doctors told police that Gabriella was brain-dead and unlikely to survive. Even if she did, “she would not lead a normal life.” An official from… MORE

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