Doctors tend to ignore living wills</b>

A small US study shows that nearly two-thirds of doctors would not follow instructions in living wills because of pressure from family members or because the prognosis for the patient was hopeful. Bioethics experts reacted to the article in the Archives of Internal Medicine with weary agreement. "There have been many studies over the course of the last decade which suggest that advance directives, especially living wills, are not particularly helpful, says Alan Meisel, of the University of Pittsburgh. And Howard Brody, of Michigan State University, says, "There are two obvious reasons why a doctor might not follow an advance… MORE

Embryo mix-up mother wins US$1 million</b>

A San Francisco IVF clinic has settled out of court for US$1 million after implanting the wrong embryo in a 48-year-old single woman four years ago and then trying to keep it a secret. Susan Buchweitz only discovered the mistake when her child was 10 months old, although the doctor, Steven L. Katz, had been told almost immediately by the embryologist, Imam El-Danasouri.

Four years later Ms Buchweitz is embroiled in a mare's nest of lawsuits. She sued both the doctor and the embryologist and the couple who provided the embryo sued her for custody of the child. The unnamed… MORE

Australian IVF study confirms rare birth defect</b>

Children conceived by IVF are nine times as likely to have a rare genetic disorder, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, as naturally- conceived children. In an article published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne say that the natural incidence of BWS is 1 in 36,000 births, but for IVF children it is 1 in 4,000. This Australian study confirms other research published last year.

Although the condition is quite uncommon, doctors are asking what feature of IVF causes the defects. One possibility is that IVF itself is to blame. Another is that growing… MORE

IN BRIEF: Danish IVF ~ European palliative care ~ Terri Schiavo</b>

  • The latest figures from Denmark show that 5 per cent of births, or one child in 20, are the result of in vitro fertilisation. MORE


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    UK gives thumbs up to "saviour siblings"

    The UK fertility watchdog has given a green light to the creation of "saviour siblings" -- genetically matched babies created with IVF to save the life of a seriously ill brother or sister. The decision of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority comes after hard lobbying by some IVF doctors. The British Medical Association welcomed the decision, saying that "if the technology to help a dying… MORE

    Japan approves human cloning for research</b>

    The Japanese Government's top science council has approved limited cloning of human embryos for scientific research. The clones cannot be used for treating human patients. A cabinet council on science and technology policy headed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will now ask ministries to propose specific guidelines. AP, Jul 24   

    South African doctors charged in organ trade

    A senior South African nephrologist, Dr Jeff Kallmeyer, is on trial in Durban for participating in an organ trafficking scheme. Police say that hundreds of transplants took place in two hospitals owned by the Netcare group, with most of them… MORE

    Stem cells become US election issue</b>

    Politics continues to invade the American stem cell debate. Ron Reagan Jr, the son of the late president who has become a Republican legend, is to address this week's Democratic convention in Boston where he will argue that limits on stem cell research should be relaxed. "My main point is that this is above politics and that this is an almost magical moment in medical history," said Mr Reagan, a former radio talk show host who is now a liberal political pundit. MORE

    Trounson wants to create artificial eggs and sperm</b>

    Prof Alan Trounson (The Lancet) Controversial human embryonic stem cell expert Alan Trounson, of Monash University in Melbourne, is looking at the possibility of ending infertility by creating eggs and sperm from stem cells. In a profile in The Lancet, he says, "They could be used to repopulate exhausted supplies of gametes. We are also studying the genes responsible for recruiting eggs from the primary germ-cell population. We may be able to extend the reproductive life of women by manipulating these genes or their products. And we could potentially make new sperm for anyone… MORE

    Sydney stem cell commercialisation seminar promises answers</b>

    The New South Wales Stem Cell Network is to hold a public seminar on the commercialisation of stem cell research. Professor Robert Jansen, who recently received Australia's first licence to create human embryonic stem cell lines, will speak on profit opportunities. Other speakers will discuss opportunities for adult stem cell business and legal issues about patenting stem cell research. For further information, contact or Dr Daniella Goldberg at MORE

    Second thoughts on abortion in UK and Australia</b>

    Abortion is back on the government's agenda in the UK. The London Times has reported that Prime Minister Tony Blair has backed a rethink of the law to take account of scientific change. The shift in the political climate has been prompted by the stunning colour video clips of babies smiling and walking in the womb created by obstetrician Professor Stuart Campbell. British MPs are beginning to realise that foetuses are viable at 22 weeks, even though the legal time limit for abortion is 24 weeks. As well, a powerful documentary, My Fetus, made by the pro-choice daughter of the… MORE

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