Donor stem cells help restore sight

A pioneering stem cell treatment at the Centre for Sight in the UK is helping to restore sight to people blinded by chemical accidents or firecrackers. According to the Guardian, Dr Sheraz Daya has treated more than 20 people by growing stem cells, mainly from deceased donors, and transplanting them to the eye. Normally his patients' problem is the absence or severe shortage of limbal cells, which protect the eye and keep the surface of the cornea clean. Dr Daya believes that stem cell transplants trigger the production of new limbal cells which arrive as stem cells through the blood… MORE

Widow fights to use her husband’s frozen sperm

A Melbourne woman is fighting to use her husband's sperm which has been frozen for seven years after he died in a motorcycle accident. The woman, known only as AB, won a legal battle to have his semen removed and stored in 1998. AB and her husband had been married for 10 years before his death. Now she is 36 and wants to bear his child before she becomes infertile. However, the Victorian government argues that there is no evidence that her husband had consented to such a procedure. "One could not presume from marriage or duration of marriage that… MORE

Cancer victim who advertised for a liver dies

A Houston man who jumped the organ recipient queue and appealed to the public for a live-saving liver with billboards and an internet site has died eight months after his transplant. It was not clear whether Todd Krampitz died as a result of transplant complications or from his cancer. He was widely criticised at the time for undermining the American organ allocation system. His supporters argued that the eventual donor might never have donated anything unless he had broken ranks. The plea was of the 32-year-old was particularly poignant because he had been married for only two months when he… MORE

Surrogate mother has quints

A surrogate mother in Phoenix, Arizona, has given birth to quintuplets. Teresa Anderson, a married mother of two, waived her US$15,000 fee for Luisa Gonzalez and Enrique Morena. "With all their financial burden right now I don't think they need any more," she said. The five boys were delivered seven weeks early by Caesarean section. All are in good condition, although one will need heart surgery. The couple originally contacted Mrs Anderson through an internet surrogacy service. She agreed to have five of the couple's embryos implanted in her womb, in the hope that at least one would survive. In… MORE

Murderer denied right to decide wife’s end-of-life care

In a bizarre end-of-life care dilemma, an Australian man who botched the murder of his wife and left her in a persistent vegetative state, says that she would not want her life support turned off. Joe Korp and his lover have been charged with attempted murder after his wife Maria was found strangled in the boot of her car in February. If she dies, charges against Mr Korp could be upgraded to murder. His lawyer contends that Mrs Korp was a devout Catholic who would not want to be removed from a life support system.

However, the Victorian government has… MORE

IN BRIEF: saviour siblings; Nitschke; cosmetic surgery

Saviour siblings: The UK's House of Lords has ruled that parents can create children with IVF whose tissue will be used as therapy for a brother or sister who suffers from a genetic disorder. The technique for "designer babies", as it is called by its critics, involves creating several embryos, selecting one with the same tissue type and discarding the rest. MORE

Russian beauty clinics trading in aborted foetuses

Aborted Ukrainian foetuses are being smuggled into Russia to be used as beauty therapies in Russia, the Observer newspaper (UK) claims. Young women are being paid about US$200 for a foetus which can fetch $9,500 across the border. Earlier this month Russian border guards arrested a Ukrainian "mule" carrying 25 frozen foetuses in two vacuum flasks which he had purchased from a medical research centre. "We are talking about a huge, corrupt and dangerous trade in quack therapies,' says Professor Vladimir Smirnov, of Moscow's Institute of Experimental Cardiology.

Although abortion is restricted in… MORE

Euthanasia kits for sale in Belgian pharmacies

Family doctors who want to euthanase their patients can now purchase a 60-Euro kit with the necessary materials at 250 pharmacies throughout Belgium. According to the TV channel RTI-TVi, the GPs will have to order the kit and pick it up themselves 24 hours later. Belgian doctors have complained that it has been difficult to practice home euthanasia because of their lack of knowledge about products, doses or products. MORE

California scientist impatient for human stem cell trials

A California specialist in stem cell cures for spinal cord injuries and his financial backer are lobbying to test his novel techniques on humans without necessarily having trials on primates. Although normally new therapies are tested on larger animals such as dogs and monkeys before using them on humans, Hans Keirstead, of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, maintains that spinal trauma victims must be helped as soon as possible. "Are we going to learn anything from the monkey studies?" he asks. "If so, then yes, we should do them. If not, then it's a… MORE

Three’s not a crowd for New Zealand kids

Three parents possible for children in the Land of the Long White Cloud New Zealand children would be able to have three legal parents if changes to parenthood laws tabled in Parliament are adopted. According to an official report by a national legal think-tank, "New Issues in Legal Parenthood", egg and sperm donors should be able to opt in" to legal parenthood if the other two parents agree. The main thrust of the report is that any changes to existing legislation should ensure that the roles of sperm or egg donors and surrogate mothers… MORE

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