Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Life Links 11/19/08

A Columbian woman living in Spain with tuberculosis whose airway had been damaged received a new windpipe which was created from her own adult stem cells.
A series of complex steps pushing the boundaries of medical science led to the transplant operation, performed on 12 June by Professor Paolo Macchiarini at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona.

A section of windpipe was taken from a female donor who had died and the trachea was stripped of its cells, leaving only connective tissue. Stem cells from Ms Castillo's bone marrow were then grown in the laboratory. Next, the donor trachea had to be "seeded" with two different kinds of cells – those made in the laboratory and those derived from tissue taken from Ms Castillo's nose and healthy airways.

The trachea graft was placed into a rotating "bioreactor" and the machine allowed the cells to migrate to the correct locations, where they began to grow naturally.

Finally the trachea, now covered in cartilage and lined with cells all bearing the patient's own genetic hallmark, was cut to shape and slotted into place. Without the pioneering operation, the lung would have had to be removed.

Today, Ms Castillo is living an active, normal life, and is once again able to look after her children, Johan, 15, and Isabella, four. Yesterday, she said: "I was scared at the beginning because I was the first patient but had confidence and trusted the doctors. I am now enjoying life and am very happy that my illness has been cured."

So far, doctors have seen no sign of her immune system rejecting the transplanted organ, even though she received no immunosuppressive drugs.
Even the New York Times had to cover this story, though not without their own added and completely unnecessary note about Obama's plan to "reverse the Bush Administration’s restrictions on stem cell research." I think they meant "the Bush Administration's federal funding restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research.

Arigul Tursun, the woman in China who was almost forced to have an abortion at 6 months has been released by Chinese authorities according to ABC News. Apparently, she wasn't released because Chinese population control officials suddenly realized forcing women to have abortions is a gross violation of human rights.
The local population control committee chief reportedly said Tursun was released because "she wasn't in good enough health to have an abortion."

Both Scott Klusendorf and Ramesh Ponnuru comment on yesterday's Washington Post article on the "shift in focus" towards abortion reduction vs. banning abortion of some evangelicals and Catholics, most of whom seem to have always been more focused on abortion reduction via social programs as opposed to abortion reduction via abortion restricting legislation.

Also, how long will we told that Doug Kmiec was once denied communion for supporting Obama? Will it be in his obituary? On his tombstone?

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