In a fantastic New Yorker article about health care reform, Atul Gawande goes into how universal health coverage developed in other countries — and how it may develop in ours. “In 2007, fifty-seven million Americans had difficulty paying their medical bills,” Gawande wrote, “up fourteen million from 2003.” It’s clear we have come to a crisis that will not go away. Part of the problem is we’ve never been so good at keeping people alive. Previously untreatable problems can now be managed, but generally at a huge cost. Some good friends of Evan Wishnia, a 25-year-old in Florida, held a fundraising concert and raffle, Save Evans Guts, to help pay for his many medical bills. We designed some t-shirts to be sold at events to help out, and they managed to raise $1,200 at the concert. That’s a lot of money, but considering Evan’s situation (he had an emergency colon transplant) and others like him, it is a mere drop in the bucket in the tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills he will have to pay over his lifetime.
Archive for the 'Medical Guts' Category
Natasha Richardson’s organs will be donated following her skiing accident, subsequent brain trauma and removal from life support. Organ donation “is very Natasha,” a friend told People magazine. “At least by donating her organs something good could come out of [the tragedy].” Richardson’s generous move will surely be lauded by organ donation boosters such as Donate Life, and appreciated by whomever recieves the organs, which will go to someone in dire need. Just goes to show it’s a good idea to have plans for your innards even when you’re young and healthy. It really takes guts.
Wrestler, actor, and all-around big guy Andre the Giant definitely had a posse, but did you know he also had a pituitary condition? Andre owed his great size to acromegaly, more specifically gigantism, a hormonal disorder that sets the pituitary growth hormones into overdrive so the body keeps on growing…and growing…and growing, well into adulthood. The hands and feet are most often affected, resulting in abnormally large extremities, and even oversized organs, usually to serve the needs of a larger body size. You’d think a condition like this would be genetic, but it is often cause by tumors on the pituitary itself. Peep this fascinating video on the pituitary condition on National Geographic.
If you heart Keira Knightly’s guts — or even if you hate her guts — you’ll be seeing more of them now that she’s agreed to star in Never Let Me Go, a creepy-sounding movie about boarding school kids who learn they are clones created for use as organ donors. Is organ cloning really possible, even if not through nubile prep schoolers? Well, sort of, via therapeutic cloning and stem cells. [Variety via New York magazine]
Not many folks know what the parathyroid is or does until — as with pretty much everything within our bodies — something goes wrong. Parathyroid hormones regulate calcium in the blood, which affects bone growth among other things. Folks with elevated amounts of the hormone have trouble with, according to Popular Science magazine, “stones (kidney stones), bones (fractures), moans (psychiatric problems) and groans (constipation).” A surprising new way to deal with parathyroid imbalance involves autotransplantation — instead of getting someone else’s parathyroid (rejection is always a problem), they take yours out, then put it back. Sometimes they even put it back in your arm rather than in your neck, where it belongs. Isn’t that amazing?
You knew that you can sell your old adirondack chair, get a job, buy some orange juice or find a boyfriend on Craigslist. But did you know you can also find a human kidney? Two sisters’ ailing father was looking at a 2-6 year waiting list for a donor until they looked to Craigslist to connect dear old dad with a kidney donor. Someone stepped up to the plate and dad got his organ. On the less legal side, another person looking to connect with some cold hard cash tried to sell his own kidney on Craiglist for $75,000. Not so legal.
Ever since a woman successfully donated a kidney through her vagina, news of faulty gallbladders and bum kidneys being removed in this fashion have surfaced. Who knew you could give birth to a kidney? Apparently the donor (in the dark grey sweatsuit at right) had previously had a hysterectomy, so that pesky uterus wasn’t in the way. The recovery time is much shorter, but she sure doesn’t look too thrilled. Her niece, however, who got the kidney, looks pretty darn happy. Let’s hope her body doesn’t reject it! In less titillating but no less sensational news, doctors have developed a new artificial liver that helps dire patients hang on a little longer while waiting for a transplant. [photo via CNN}
What’s the return policy on a donated kidney? Is it cash back or tap tap no givebacks? Only time will tell — as part of an ongoing divorce settlement, a man is asking his soon-t0-be ex-wife for $1.5 million as repayment for the kidney he gave her while they were married. He says she ways having an affair, she says she wasn’t. Regardless, the honeymoon between the two is long over.
We’d like to take a moment to say goodbye to a very important pancreas that may very well be on its way out — Apple’s co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs may have to have his pancreas removed in order to halt growing problems stemming surgery he had a few years back to get rid of cancerous tissue. Apparently the pancreas’ oozing enzymes can cause trouble for surrounding organs, so the best way to stop future spread of cancer and growing problems with surrounding organs is to take the ol’ thing out. Those of you with diabetes and pancreas trouble will sympathize with his future regimen of insulin and digestive enzymes. We must give thanks to Jobs’s pancreas for taking him along in life this far in dutiful service to its owner. Thank you, Mr. Pancreas, may you rest in peace.
Perhaps you’ve heard of a heart transplant, a lung transplant, and even a uterus transplant, but have you ever heard of not just a bowel transplant (WARNING: STOP READING NOW IF YOU’RE EASILY DISGUSTED), but a feces transplant? Yes, it’s true, people sometimes transplant poo. I learned this from What’s Your Poo Telling You?, a fun-loving and fact-filled book all about bodily excretions. Folks with really bad cases of colitis caused by poor intestinal flora can sometimes benefit from a squirt of someone else’s nicely populated bacterial colony. As the book points out, this last-resort treatment may have a bright future “owing to the short list of willing recipients and the potentially endless supply of donors.”