Terminal sedation becoming the way to go in the Netherlands</b>

Professor Paul van der Maas About 10 per cent of all deaths in the Netherlands in 2001 were due to terminal sedation -- drugging patients and stopping all food and water -- according to a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In most cases, the primary intention of the doctor was to alleviate symptoms of pain or distress, but in 17% the doctor explicitly intended to bring about the death of the patient. In many of these cases, death was not imminent. The lead author, Professor Paul van der Maas, of Erasmus University… MORE

Traditional Aborigines fear death in hospitals</b>

Many Australian Aborigines living in a traditional lifestyle end their days in city hospitals, lonely, confused and afraid of euthanasia, a researcher claims. Dr Pam McGrath, of Central Queensland University, says that palliative care facilities should be established in rural areas so that Aborigines can die at home with their families.

Aborigines from the Outback often do not have a good command of English and do not understand many basic medical procedures, such as taking blood. "Some have a fear that palliative care is associated with euthanasia. They think morphine is about ending life, not resolving pain," says Dr McGrath.… MORE

British patient wins right-to-life ruling</b>

Leslie Burke And in the UK, a patient who feared that doctors would withdraw food and drink against his wishes has won a landmark case. The High Court ruled that guidelines set by the General Medical Council were skewed towards the right of patients to refuse treatment rather than their right to require treatment. Leslie Burke, 44, who has a degenerative brain condition, says that "the onus should be on helping people to live, not despatching people too early. The patient should have the last say." The General Medical Council said that it welcomed… MORE

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


    BioEdge will not be published on July 30 and August 6. The next issue will be August 13.

    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

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