Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Life Links 9/9/09

Sarah Palin discusses the problem with the bureaucratization of health care in the Wall Street Journal.
Now look at one way Mr. Obama wants to eliminate inefficiency and waste: He's asked Congress to create an Independent Medicare Advisory Council—an unelected, largely unaccountable group of experts charged with containing Medicare costs. In an interview with the New York Times in April, the president suggested that such a group, working outside of "normal political channels," should guide decisions regarding that "huge driver of cost . . . the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives . . . ."

Given such statements, is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats' proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by—dare I say it—death panels? Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans. Working through "normal political channels," they made themselves heard, and as a result Congress will likely reject a wrong-headed proposal to authorize end-of-life counseling in this cost-cutting context. But the fact remains that the Democrats' proposals would still empower unelected bureaucrats to make decisions affecting life or death health-care matters. Such government overreaching is what we've come to expect from this administration.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail provides an example of what can happen when unelected bureaucrats are allowed to create guidelines which tell doctors how to operate: A premature child was left to die without treatment because he was born 2 days before twenty-two weeks into gestation and national guidelines advise doctors not to treat children born before 22 weeks.
Experts on medical ethics advised doctors not to resuscitate babies born before 23 weeks in the womb, stating that it was not in the child's 'best interests'.

The guidelines said: 'If gestational age is certain and less than 23+0 (i.e at 22 weeks) it would be considered in the best interests of the baby, and standard practice, for resuscitation not to be carried out.'

Medical intervention would be given for a child born between 22 and 23 weeks only if the parents requested it and only after discussion about likely outcomes.

The rules were endorsed by the British Association of Perinatal Medicine and are followed by NHS hospitals.

Researchers at Stanford University have discovered a quicker way of creating induced pluripotent stem cells. Instead of using skin cells, they dramatically cut the time and increased the efficiency of process by using fat cells.
Other stem cells in the body, such as liver and stomach cells, have been examined for their ability to culture usable iPS cells. Fat stem cells, however, seem especially primed for the job, as they are capable of turning into fat, heart, bone or muscle tissue. "We know that these fat cells are multipotent, which should [make it] easier to reprogram them," Wu says.

Indeed, they were: According to the team's findings, adipose stem cells can be turned into iPS cells twice as quickly as fibroblast skin cells and with 20 times the efficiency. The process can begin immediately after the fat is harvested—via liposuction—and cells are ready to culture within the same day.

A pair of late-stage clinical trials using a drug dervied from adult stem cells showed the drug, Prochymal, didn't improve the patients' conditions anymore than a placebo.

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