Review Category : Health

Organ Donation Comes Full Circle as Family Pays It Forward

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) — When the Millard family lost their son, his pancreas was donated to a 19-year-old boy, Jake MacKinnon. Friday, the MacKinnon family will return the favor.

After Kalem Millard’s fatal accident, his parents made the difficult decision to donate his pancreas, which ultimately saved the life of Jake MacKinnon.

Nearly 10 years later, Bill Millard, Kalem’s father, was in desperate need of a kidney transplant after suffering from diabetes.

“This year I was really sick, I could barely walk,” Bill Millard told ABC station affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco.

Jake MacKinnon’s mother, Janice MacKinnon, will donate her kidney to Bill Millard Friday at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

“Overall, the chance of compatibility is less than fifty percent,” said Dr. Steven Katznelson, making it wonderful news that Janice MacKinnon was a match.

The operation will take two to three hours, with Janice MacKinnon going in first and Bill Millard soon after.

“The donor usually goes in first and once the kidney comes out, the recipient is ready for the kidney to go in, so we try to minimize the time in between donor-recipient surgeries,” Katznelson said.

Bill Millard is thankful to Janice MacKinnon for giving him a chance at a better life.

“Having to hook up to my machine every night, to depend on a machine to keep me alive, that’s the hardest thing,” he said, “and the thing that I won’t miss.”

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Study: Women See Other Gals Dressed in Red as Sexual Threat

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — So that lady in red stirs up passion in men — “dancing with me, cheek to cheek…the beauty by my side,” as the Chris DeBurgh song goes. But how does her dress color affect the women around her?

A recent study from the University of Rochester with collaborators from Trnava University in Slovakia and the Slovak Academy of Sciences say not so positively. In fact, it makes them fiercely guard their man.

A study, published Friday in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, finds that female onlookers, when shown photos of another woman wearing red, jumped to the conclusion that she would be a sexual threat.

In the study, researchers did three experiments, showing female subjects photos of other women dressed in red and in white dresses, and then in red versus green shirts. They hypothesized that the color red would be a “sexual receptivity cue and that this perception would be accompanied by rival derogation and intentions to mate-guard,” according to the study.

“We tend to take color for granted,” said the study’s lead author Adam Pazda, a graduate student from the University of Rochester. “It’s not just a pretty thing in our environment that adds to the aesthetic experience in the world. Behind the scenes, it can affect us psychologically in the way we perceive others or ourselves.”

“It helps us make sense of other people’s behavior when women are out in red and they are getting the cold shoulder from other women,” he told ABC News. “Maybe they are giving off the perception of a romantic competitor.”

Pazda said the study “essentially replicated” a 2008 study on male subjects that found men perceive the color red on a woman to be a “signal of sexual receptivity.”

Researchers did the three experiments on several hundred women, using a photo of a woman in a dress that was Photoshopped in white and red, then an image of a woman in a green versus a red shirt. In all photos, the face was blurred out.

“Everything was identical, except for the color,” Pazda said.

In the first, they asked the study participants, “How interested in sex is she?” and “How seductive is she?” More women said the woman in the red dress was “more open to sexual encounters” than the one in white. They responded along a “sliding scale” from “No, not at all” to “Yes, definitely.”

In the second experiment, researchers wanted to see if women would “derogate” or make negative comments about the woman in red.

“We asked about two subjects, sexual fidelity and how faithful a woman is, and their financial resources — how much money they had and if they drive a nice car,” Pazda said.

Participants again made more derogatory comments toward the woman in the red dress.

In the third part of the study, the color was switched from white to green, to rule out perceptions about virginity and purity normally associated with the color white. The woman in the photo was wearing a shirt, not a dress. Researchers also only questioned study participants who were currently involved in romantic relationships.

“We asked how likely they would be to introduce their boyfriend, and these women were reluctant to leave a man alone with a woman in a red shirt,” Pazda said.

But several women interviewed by ABC News who were not study subjects drew more positive conclusions as to how the color red is perceived.

Amy Wolfe, 35, of Berkshire, Massachusetts, says that for her, red suggests “confidence.”

Hillary Mains, 32, from Pepperell, Massachusetts, agrees that “red definitely evokes someone who wants to be seen — confidence and pride.”

“Va va va voom,” is the phrase that 54-year-old New Yorker Amy Spiegel uses.

“There’s lots of science about red as a sexual lure in primates and human beings, which is doubtless where the ‘scarlet’ woman comes from and Bette Davis wearing red as a virgin in Jezebel,” said Peg Streep, an author who writes about psychological research.

“In the movie Pretty Woman, they played on that because Julia Roberts is in red when she’s a ‘lady’ at the opera, not a whore,” Streep said.

“I think red signals confidence and, yes, the statement ‘I can play this game’ and ‘look at me,'” she said. “The older I get, the more red I wear, meaning ‘don’t count me out!'”

But researcher Pazda said the study results can “help us learn about ourselves.”

“Men think red is attractive and sexually receptive,” he said. “You might think twice about wearing red to send off the wrong vibes. …If you are wearing red out and about, you might be perceived negatively by other women. It won’t happen in every situation, but be aware of the signals to other women and men that you’re interested in sex.”

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Restaurant Patrons Underestimate Health Threats of Flies

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — We’re all familiar with the well-worn joke that has a restaurant patron complaining to a waiter about a fly in their soup, but a new survey reveals a majority of people — 61 percent — would continue eating their meal after a fly touched it.

In comparison, only three percent of respondents would continue eating food on which a cockroach had crawled.

The folks at Orkin, the pest control company, say restaurant patrons underestimate the health threats that flies present.

“Many restaurant patrons may not be aware that house flies are twice as filthy as cockroaches,” says Orkin entomologist and Technical Services Director Ron Harrison, Ph.D. “It’s important that everyone understands the magnitude of the health threats flies pose so that they can help prevent the transmission of dangerous diseases and bacteria.”

Entomologists say flies spread disease-causing pathogens when they move from potentially disease-laden garbage to exposed human foods and utensils. Every time a fly lands, it can leave behind thousands of germs that can cause serious illnesses such as diarrhea, food poisoning, meningitis and bloodstream infections.

Despite the threat, people continue to eat food a fly has touched. A separate survey released by Orkin shows flies are a common pest in restaurants:

  • 50 percent of patrons saw a pest at a restaurant in the past 12 months.
  • 95 percent of those sightings included flies.
  • 75 percent of those sightings went unreported because restaurant patrons don’t consider flies a major issue.

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Study Finds Life on a Dairy Farm May Help Prevent Allergies

iStock/Thinkstock(GOTHENBURG, Sweden) — Want to reduce the risk of your child developing allergies? Move to a dairy farm.

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden say children who live on farms that produce milk run one-tenth the risk of developing allergies compared to other rural children.

Heath experts say there’s been a dramatic increase in the occurrence of allergic diseases in Western societies in recent years, and one often-cited reason is that children are less exposed to microorganisms and have fewer infections than previous generations. As a result, that delays maturation of their immune system.

The researchers monitored children until the age of three to track the maturation of their immune system in relation to allergic disease. All of the children lived in rural areas in Sweden, with half of them on farms that produced milk. The study found that kids being raised on dairy farms ran a much lower risk of developing allergies than the other children.

“Our study also demonstrated for the first time that delayed maturation of the immune system, specifically B-cells, is a risk factor for development of allergies,” says Anna-Carin Lundell, one of the researchers.

The study found children with an allergic disease between the ages of 18 and 36 months had a higher percentage of immature B-cells in their blood circulation at birth and during the first month of life.

The researchers suggest that pregnant women may also benefit from spending time on dairy farms to promote maturation of the fetal and neonatal immune system.

Lundell says they will now try to identify the specific factors on daily farms that strengthen protection against allergies.

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Split Liver Transplants May Be as Safe as Whole Organ Transplants

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study shows that doctors may be able to increase availability of donated livers by splitting the donated organs into two and giving each half to a different recipient.

The study, published in the American Journal of Transplantation, showed that splitting the donated livers may be just as safe as a single whole liver donation. Such a finding would allow doctors to double the number of individuals who could receive liver transplants — which is important since 16,000 Americans are on the waiting list for a new liver.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic compared 48 split-liver transplants to 121 matched whole-liver transplants over a span of nine years and found no discernible difference in survival rate of the transplanted organs.

The study did note that patients receiving a split transplant did have a higher rate of complications, with some requiring further procedures and potentially surgery. The split transplant is also more difficult, researchers say. Still, with thousands waiting, some in vain, for a donor liver, researchers continue searching for a safe way to increase the number of transplants available.

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First Ever Dengue Vaccine Shows Signs of Efficacy

moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new vaccine to help prevent dengue infections is showing promise, researchers say, in limiting infections of the disease that strikes nearly 100 million people per year.

The study, published in the journal The Lancet, showed that slightly more than half of the children between the ages of two and 14 included in the study were effectively protected from dengue. Approximately 10,275 children were included in the study, all from Southeast Asia.

The vaccine was given as a three-part series, on the day of the child’s birth, at six months, and at 12 months.

Children who received the vaccine did not suffer from any more adverse events than those who received placebo injections.

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First Ever Dengue Vaccine Shows Signs of Efficacy

moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new vaccine to help prevent dengue infections is showing promise, researchers say, in limiting infections of the disease that strikes nearly 100 million people per year.

The study, published in the journal The Lancet, showed that slightly more than half of the children between the ages of two and 14 included in the study were effectively protected from dengue. Approximately 10,275 children were included in the study, all from Southeast Asia.

The vaccine was given as a three-part series, on the day of the child’s birth, at six months, and at 12 months.

Children who received the vaccine did not suffer from any more adverse events than those who received placebo injections.

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Researchers Use Microchip-Based Device to Culture Certain Types of Breast Cancer Cells

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A preliminary study at Massachusetts General Hospital found that specially developed microchips may be able to detect certain types of breast cancer cells in a patient’s bloodstream.

The study contained data from just 36 patients, but researchers were able to detect breast cancer without a biopsy. Still, specific breast cancer cells were detected in just six cases, women with advanced breast cancer.

Techniques for culturing the cancer cells in the bloodstream must be improve before the microchip-based technique is ready for clinical use. Still, the use of microchips to find circulating tumor cells would be a big step forward from requiring a biopsy.

The microchip would not rely on previously identified marker proteins on the surface of the tumor cells, which limits the existing methods. It also allows researchers to uncover new possible mutations.

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Split Liver Transplants May Be as Safe as Whole OrganTransplants

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study shows that doctors may be able to increase availability of donated livers by splitting the donated organs into two and giving each half to a different recipient.

The study, published in the American Journal of Transplantation, showed that splitting the donated livers may be just as safe as a single whole liver donation. Such a finding would allow doctors to double the number of individuals who could receive liver transplants — which is important since 16,000 Americans are on the waiting list for a new liver.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic compared 48 split-liver transplants to 121 matched whole-liver transplants over a span of nine years and found no discernible difference in survival rate of the transplanted organs.

The study did note that patients receiving a split transplant did have a higher rate of complications, with some requiring further procedures and potentially surgery. The split transplant is also more difficult, researchers say. Still, with thousands waiting, some in vain, for a donor liver, researchers continue searching for a safe way to increase the number of transplants available.

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Girl ‘Cured’ of HIV at Birth Now Has Virus

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A girl believed to be “cured” of HIV at birth now has detectable levels of the virus, health officials said on Thursday.

The unnamed girl, dubbed the “Mississippi baby” after being born to an HIV-positive mother in 2010 and quickly treated with an intense dose of antiretroviral medication, showed no signs of the virus for roughly four years, according to the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease. But a recent round of tests revealed detectable levels of HIV in her blood as well as antibodies to the virus and a decreased T-cell count — all signs of the infection.

“Certainly, this is a disappointing turn of events for this young child, the medical staff involved in the child’s care, and the HIV/AIDS research community,” NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a statement. “Scientifically, this development reminds us that we still have much more to learn about the intricacies of HIV infection and where the virus hides in the body.”

The case of the Mississippi baby made headlines across the globe after being published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Hannah Gay, the University of Mississippi Medical Center pediatrician who treated the infant at birth, was listed as one of Time magazine’s most influential people of 2013.

Gay’s decision to give the newborn antiretroviral medication in the days before it was confirmed that she was in fact HIV-positive was controversial, since there was only a 25 percent chance that the girl would contract the virus from her mother.

The girl continued treatment for 18 months before her mother stopped taking her to her clinic appointments. Five months later, when she went back for a check-up, she surprised doctors with undetectable levels of the virus.

At first, Gay and her colleagues said the baby had been “functionally cured” of the virus, but later revised their language to “remission” to better convey that there was a chance the virus could rebound, they said at the time.

Although the girl’s positive test results have been described as a disappointment, experts say her case still shows tremendous progress in treating the virus that causes AIDS.

“The fact that this child was able to remain off antiretroviral treatment for two years and maintain quiescent virus for that length of time is unprecedented,” Dr. Deborah Persaud, professor of infectious diseases at the John Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, said in a statement released by NIAID. “Typically, when treatment is stopped, HIV levels rebound within weeks, not years.”

Persaud is one of the two pediatric HIV experts involved in the ongoing analysis of the case. NIAID and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development announced on Thursday that they would provide funding to analyze the unique case and will take the new findings into account during a new clinical trial.

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