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Posts Tagged ‘Science’

“If you commodify body parts, including reproductive materials, who’s going to be selling them? It’s going to be the poor. And who’s going to be buying them? It’s going to be rich people,” Jonathan D. Moreno, a University of Pennsylvania bioethicist, told The Washington Post.

“You’re gradually going down a slippery slope that not only undermines respect for certain body parts but eventually whole bodies of, say, people who are very old or very sick or very poor,” he said.

Do you feel that warm gunky sludge on your backside?  you know, from tumbling down the slippery slope?

keep finding these kinds of stories, the kinds of stories that the Church warned about years ago, but were dismissed as rubbish and “something that will *never* happen.”  Well…it’s happened.  An American fertility clinic is offering free eggs to a lucky winner in Great Britain.  If you read the article, you learn that actually this has been going on for some time and that now Quebec will be offering free eggs at an annual taxpayer cost of $80 million.   Our poor Catholic brothers and sisters in Canada, being forced to pay for the commodification of human life.  

To repeat what I said in a prior post:

Each hopeful would-be parent is not owed a child by nature.  As the Church teaches:

2378 A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The “supreme gift of marriage” is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged “right to a child” would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,” and “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.”  (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

(If you do not know it, the Church condemns as a moral evil, IVF procedures.  See DONUM VITAE.  (For an explanation of the teachings, I recommend this article.)

Full article on AOL here.

St. Joseph, pray for us.  

(see this and this for my previous posts)

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Is this article suggesting that religious people are only spiritually-inclined because they are brain-damaged?  Hmmm. 

(Feb. 11) — Scientists have identified areas of the brain that, when damaged, lead to greater spirituality. The findings hint at the roots of spiritual and religious attitudes, the researchers say.
The study, published in the Feb. 11 issue of the journal Neuron, involves a personality trait called self-transcendence, which is a somewhat vague measure of spiritual feeling, thinking and behaviors. Self-transcendence “reflects a decreased sense of self and an ability to identify one’s self as an integral part of the universe as a whole,” the researchers explain.
Before and after surgery, the scientists surveyed patients who had brain tumors removed. The surveys generate self-transcendence scores.
Selective damage to the left and right posterior parietal regions of the brain induced a specific increase in self-transcendence, or ST, the surveys showed.
“Our symptom-lesion mapping study is the first demonstration of a causative link between brain functioning and ST,” said Dr. Cosimo Urgesi from the University of Udine in Italy. “Damage to posterior parietal areas induced unusually fast changes of a stable personality dimension related to transcendental self-referential awareness. Thus, dysfunctional parietal neural activity may underpin altered spiritual and religious attitudes and behaviors.”
Previous neuroimaging studies had linked activity within a large network in the brain that connects the frontal, parietal, and temporal cortexes with spiritual experiences, “but information on the causative link between such a network and spirituality is lacking,” explains lead study author, Urgesi said.
One study, reported in 2008, suggested that the brain’s right parietal lobe defines “Me,” and people with less active Me-Definers are more likely to lead spiritual lives.
The finding could lead to new strategies for treating some forms of mental illness.
“If a stable personality trait like ST can undergo fast changes as a consequence of brain lesions, it would indicate that at least some personality dimensions may be modified by influencing neural activity in specific areas,” said Dr. Salvatore M. Aglioti from Sapienza University of Rome. “Perhaps novel approaches aimed at modulating neural activity might ultimately pave the way to new treatments of personality disorders.”

Links to Spirituality Found in the Brain.

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This article is mostly about genetic testing–the need for, the cost of, the unavailability of and the importance of genetic testing beyond what the ultrasound picks up.  As we in the pro-life movement know, the subcurrent of this article on the fallibility of ultrasounds is that these are children who should not be born.   After all, the phrase “genetic screening” is often a code for “elective abortion”.

The mother who is the focus of this ABC News story, the one for whom we are supposed to ache that she’s been burdened by this handicapped child, is a beautiful 15 year old girl.  I think we are supposed to lament her situation and cry out for more genetic testing so that terrible things like a handicapped child being born does not happen, especially to lovely young teenagers.  (if you doubt what I’m saying, just read through the comments section of the article–but be warned, there is a lot of hate there.)

All I see is a very proud mother, smiling with joy, holding her beautiful baby and saying,

A lot of worse things could have happened and thank god they didn’t,” Garrison said. “I see her just as any other baby. She does everything any other baby would.”

 

Taylor Garrison holds her daughter, Brielle

via Ultrasounds Can Miss Babies Born With No Eyes – ABC News.

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A remarkable story of a young Australian man saved by his own stem cells.  This use of one’s own stem cells is a field of research showing great promise and viability.  

Just a reminder to those of you dependent on the mainstream media that we in the pro-life community are not anti-stem cell research, as you have been led to believe.  We are against killing unborn children which is what happens when one destroys embryos for embryonic stem cell research.  Medicine continues to advance in adult stem cell successes, while embryonic stem cell research has yielded no success.  Why then is there all this uproar to fund embryonic stem cell research from taxpayer money?

From ABC News – Australia:

An Australian man appears to have made a remarkable recovery from multiple sclerosis after receiving new stem cell treatment.

Ben Leahy, 20, was diagnosed with the disease in 2008 and ended up in intensive care at one point with respiratory failure after his condition deteriorated rapidly.

He was in a wheelchair and also had sight problems when he underwent the procedure earlier this year but today he is walking and recovering well.

Australian doctors removed stem cells from Ben’s bone marrow, then used chemicals to destroy all the existing immune cells in the body before re-injecting his stem cells.

ACT neurologist Dr Colin Andrews says the positive results in Ben have surprised doctors.

“At the moment there’s a good chance we may have arrested the disease,” he said.

“He walks pretty well, there’s only some mild weakness in his right leg and some visual loss in one eye and apart from that he’s very intact,” he said.

Dr Andrews says health professionals had been reluctant to use the technique because of the risk of death was at around 8 per cent several years ago.

He was unable to a consensus from his peers to go ahead with the treatment in Canberra and could not try the treatment on Ben until he found a specialist in Sydney who was doing similar work on people with other conditions.

He also had to get Ben well enough to be able to undergo the stem cell treatment and this took several months.

The risk of death from the procedure has now been reduced to 1 per cent and Dr Andrews says the outstanding results on Ben means it can now be an option for more people as a last resort if other treatments have not been successful in stopping the progress of the disease.

Read the full article here.

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Awhile back I posted about the fate of 3 children who came into existence through artificial means.  IVF and other infertility treatments which take conception out of the realm of nature and move it into the laboratory are resulting in multiple moral and ethical nightmares.  Take this story, from the Chicago Tribune.

In-vitro fertilization made it possible for Adriana and Robert Potter to welcome twins Anabella and Matteus into the world. For the same reasons many couples can’t conceive, IVF was their only option if they wanted children of their own.

But with that choice came another: what to do with two other embryos created in the same petri dish but never placed in the womb. On that dilemma, the Potters have agreed to disagree for now.

If the Elmhurst couple decides they don’t want more children, Adriana Potter believes donating the embryos to advance reproductive technology or treat debilitating diseases would be the most life-affirming choice.

“Think about it. The only way we got this far with IVF is because there was research in the past,” she said. “There were sacrifices to help families like us have kids. … When it comes to promoting the creation of new life, you have modern medicine and the choice to use it for good, to fulfill dreams.”

There were sacrifices to help families like us have kids…” — This is from the mom, to whom I would answer:  Human sacrifice hardly seems to be a foundation upon which to build your family.  Unless you are a Mayan chieftain in the year 1500.

Robert Potter imagines having more children to fulfill God’s mandate to be fruitful and multiply. But if they decide to have no more, he favors donating the embryos for another couple to do the same. Viable embryos should not be taken for granted, he said.

“It’s not just a moral (issue). It’s a waste,” he said. “Why would you waste an opportunity if it’s a good one?”

As thousands of frozen embryos continue to accumulate and pressure mounts to decide their fates, doctors say more families must weigh the promise and perils of adoption and research.

I’m not sure that the dad fully understands the issue if he thinks this isn’t about morality but overall, his statement is right:  human life should not be wasted.

The freedom to make that decision without condemnation is one of the many factors Adriana finds appealing about the Methodist church, where the couple will baptize their children right before Christmas. Raised Roman Catholic in Brazil, Adriana began to drift after a heart-wrenching divorce.

She cannot imagine her offspring raised by another family without any control over their upbringing. By devoting them to research, she as their mother would have the final say about their greater purpose in life.

But Robert doesn’t trust that every embryo fulfills a greater purpose. He can’t imagine sentencing two potential children to short lives that would end in a laboratory.

The Rev. Norma Lee Barnhart, pastor of Elmhurst First Methodist Church, encourages the couple to have conversations with God and with each other.

The Methodist church endorses stem cell research, though it doesn’t dictate that’s what a couple should choose. Citing First Corinthians 13:12a letter the apostle Paul wrote 2,000 years ago describing the process of maturing in one’s faith, she prescribes time and patience.

“In our faith those decisions are made by the person with God’s help and with the help of the church community,” she said.

Okay, so the mother of the Solomon’s wisdom story, this woman ain’t.  If you remember the story to which I am referring, King Solomon settles a dispute between two mothers by ordering that the baby be cut in half and given to the two arguing women.  In fear, one mother cries out that instead of killing the child, Solomon should give it to the other mother.  The second mother says, yeah, go ahead and kill it, thus proving who the real mother is.   A real mother would wish for her child to live, even if that meant with someone else raising it, rather than see him or her die.  A fake, selfish, jealous and vengeful mother only cares about her own interests.  Adriana Potter:  grab your Bible (or borrow your husband’s) and read 1 Kings 13 and then…go take a good hard look in the mirror.

My take on this is that the Mrs. Potter has a very tenuous relationship not only with the Church but with Christ’s authority.  She left the Church over her divorce (presumably because she couldn’t submit to the Church teaching) and joined a Methodist church not so much because of her husband’s beliefs but because the Methodists have abandoned Scripture for modernism and simply do not care about Biblical teachings on divorce.  She wants the children she wants and those she choses not to raise, she wants them destroyed rather than blessing some other family.

Do I sound harsh?  I am sorry, I probably am being too harsh, but something in this article really sticks in my craw.   Something like this:

Fertility Centers of Illinois now stores about 20,000 embryos from about 4,550 patients.

Perhaps it is the fact that there are THOUSANDS of little babies in each of HUNDREDS of these puppy mills fertility clinics just staying on ice until they are destroyed purposely or killed in laboratory experiments.  Each of these little babies–a million souls?–cost so much in money, time, effort and hope.  Every single one of these babies was created–their parents would say–because of the love their parents felt for them.  Love.   When the parents meet up with them at the gates of Heaven, they can try explaining how much love they felt for them that they gave them over to science to be experimented on alive and dead.

Our mother Church is so wise.  We need to heed to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit who is guiding the Church.   We are leading ourselves astray.  We are bringing horrors upon ourselves.  In our need, we are creating…destruction.  How’s that for irony?

Embryos’ fate: A fertile debate — chicagotribune.com

Posted using ShareThis

h/t = Sarah Pulliam Bailey at Get Religion

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Dinesh D'Souza contributes yet another intellectual blow to the new atheists.

From now until Christmas, I am going to post frequently about really great books out there you should consider getting for me someone.  Like this one!  ==>

Dinesh D’Souza has a new book out proving the existence of an afterlife.  Dinesh is a writer and political analyst mostly known to me from The National Review.  But his work in Christian apologetics of the last few years has been outstanding.  He comes at it from an intellectual rather than a biblical or theological viewpoint which is quite effective for the new atheism.  (Remember:  we have to meet them where they are.)

From his series Dinesh D’Souza on Life After Death at the Catholic Education Resource Center:

Here is my presuppositional argument for life after death. Unlike material objects and all other living creatures, we humans inhabit two domains: the way things are, and the way things ought to be. In other words, we are moral animals who recognize that just as there are natural laws that govern every object in the universe, there are also moral laws that govern the behavior of one special set of objects in the universe, namely us. While the universe is externally moved by “facts,” we are internally moved also by “values.” Yet these values defy natural and scientific explanation, because the laws of nature, as discovered by science, concern only the way things are and not the way they ought to be. Moreover, the essence of morality is to curtail and contradict the powerful engine of human self-interest, giving morality an undeniable anti-evolutionary thrust. So how do we explain the existence of moral values that stand athwart our animal nature? The presupposition of cosmic justice, achieved not in this life but in another life beyond the grave, is by far the best and in some respects the only explanation. This presupposition fully explains why humans continue to espouse goodness and justice even when the world is evil and unjust.

Notice what the presuppositional argument does not say. It does not say that because there is injustice in the world there must be justice somewhere else. Nor does it say that the human wish for a better world is enough by itself to produce another world that is better. Rather, it begins with the recognition that while science explains much of nature very well, there is a big part of human nature that science does not seem to explain at all. In particular, evolution does a good job of accounting for why we are selfish animals, but it faces immense challenges in accounting for why we simultaneously hold that we ought not to be selfish. Far from facing the facts of life, like every other animal, we continue to cherish ideals that have never been and will never be fully achieved. We are flawed creatures who act as if we ought not to be. We know that we live in an unjust society where the bad guy often comes out on top and the good guy often comes to grief, yet we continue to hold that this is not how it should be. We continue to say things like “what goes around comes around” even though we know that in this world it is not always so. Despite the harsh facts of life, we tirelessly affirm that it should be so. Our ideals, in other words, contradict the reality of our lives. It seems that we, uniquely among all living and nonliving things, seek to repudiate the laws of evolution and escape the control of the laws of nature.

Dinesh has a way of putting complicated theses forward intelligently while also accessible to the rest of us.  Hey, even Christopher Hitchens begrudgingly gave him props for this book.  Check it out!

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The news on this case of the poor man who lost 23 years to the misdiagnosis of ‘vegetative coma’ status just gets more fascinating.  Things I have learned:

  • His family never believed he was vegetative and his mom requested numerous follow-up tests, all of which were a ‘fail’ for Mr. Houben but an even bigger failure of  the neuro “experts”
  • He was tested no less than 5 times here in the United States by our doctors who did not catch his normally functioning brain activity (!!!)
  • What Mr. Houben suffered from was a condition known as “locked-in syndrome“.
  • Dr. Laureys works for a group called the Coma Science Group in Belgium whose mission is “to improve the medical care and understanding of disorders of consciousness following an acute insult such as coma, vegetative state, minimally conscious state or locked-in syndrome.”
  • Mr. Houben’s conscious state was found using no fancier a tool than a PET scan (!!!)
  • The rate of misdiagnosis of vegetative state has not substantially changed in the past 15 years (no improvement?–yikes!!!)
  • new comparison of methods for detecting consciousness suggests that around 40 per cent of people diagnosed as being in a vegetative state are in fact “minimally conscious(!!!)
  • Satan’s little helpers in the bioethicists field won’t go quietly on this, either. **see below
  • Catholic bioethicists like Mr. Haas are probably rather lonely in their field. (pray for them!)
  • Dying because you were denied water until you suffocated is called “being allowed to die(Somehow, I doubt PETA or SPCA would agree with this definition if the ‘beneficiary’ of one’s kindness is a dog or cat.)
  • The Associated Press continues to change their news headlines to obfuscate, hide or bury information that is inconvenient to their liberal viewpoints.  Notice that the headline says he was ‘mute’ not that he was a ‘misdiagnosed coma patient’ as foreign papers called him.

Be assured that I’ll post more as I find it.  I’m sure that Satan’s Little Helpers in the Relativist camp won’t sit still on this.

**

Arthur Caplan, a bioethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said he is skeptical of Houben’s ability to communicate after seeing video of his hand being moved along the keyboard. “That’s called ‘facilitated communication,'” Caplan said. “That is ouija board stuff. It’s been discredited time and time again. When people look at it, it’s usually the person doing the pointing who’s doing the messages, not the person they claim they are helping.”

 Caplan also said the statements Houben allegedly made with the computer seem unnatural for someone with such a profound injury and an inability to communicate for decades.

UPDATE:  the doctor who finally “released” Mr. Houben, Dr. Steven Laureys was an invited member of the 2004 Congress on Life-Sustaining Treatments in the Vegetative State organized by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Life which produced this:  The Joint Statement on the Vegetative State.  While it seems that he counseled the Academy to not overly interpret the importance of his research vis a vis end of life decisions, nevertheless, he did present his findings of the problems in diagnostic interpretation, resulting in an error rate of over 40% of the “vegetative state” (“VS”) patients. 

By the way, that Pontifical  statement is quite a remarkable and well-written document.  It says in part:

5) VS diagnosis is still clinical in nature and requires careful and prolonged observation, carried out by specialized and experienced personnel using specific assessment standardized for VS patients in an optimum-controlled environment. Medical literature, in fact, shows diagnostic errors in a substantially high proportion of cases. For this reason, when needed, all available modern technologies should be used to substantiate the diagnosis….

7) No single investigation method available today allows us to predict, in individual cases, who will recover and who will not among VS patients….

9) We acknowledge that every human being has the dignity of a human person, without any discrimination based on race, culture, religion, health conditions or socio-economic conditions. Such a dignity, based on human nature itself, is a permanent and intangible value that cannot depend on specific circumstances of life and cannot be subordinated to anyone’s judgment.

We recognize the search for the best possible quality of life for every human being as an intrinsic duty of medicine and society, but we believe that it cannot and must not be the ultimate criterion used to judge the value of a human being’s life.

We acknowledge that the dignity of every person can also be expressed in the practice of autonomous choices; however, personal autonomy can never justify decisions or actions against one’s own life or that of others:  in fact, the exercise of freedom is impossible outside of life.
10) Based on these premises, we feel the duty to state that VS patients are human persons, and as such, they need to be fully respected in their fundamental rights. The first of these rights is the right to life and to the safeguard of health. In particular, VS patients have the right to: 

– correct and thorough diagnostic evaluation, in order to avoid possible mistakes and to orient rehabilitation in the best way;
– basic care, including hydration, nutrition, warming and personal hygiene;
– prevention of possible complications and monitoring for any possible signs of recovery;
– adequate rehabilitative processes, prolonged in time, favouring the recovery and maintenance of all progress achieved;

– be treated as any other patients with reference to general assistance and affective relationships.
This requires that any decision of abandonment based on a probability judgment be discouraged, considering the insufficiency and unreliability of prognostic criteria available to date. The possible decision of withdrawing nutrition and hydration, necessarily administered to VS patients in an assisted way, is followed inevitably by the patients’ death as a direct consequence. Therefore, it has to be considered a genuine act of euthanasia by omission, which is morally unacceptable.

At the same time, we refuse any form of therapeutic obstinacy in the context of resuscitation, which can be a substantial cause of post-anoxic VS.

It also requests that the term “permanent” not be used with VS patients.

Okay, well I said I would update you as I found out things.  Fascinating.  Horrifying and fascinating.

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A Catholic bioethics expert weighs in on the case of Rom Houben, which is quickly becoming one of my all-time most read posts.  In an interview with Catholic News Agency,  John Haas, President of the Philadelphia-based National Catholic Bioethics Center suggests the case shows the wisdom of Catholic teaching on the duty to provide sustenance for those believed to be comatose.

Houben’s mistaken diagnosis was a “perfect example” of why artificial nutrition and hydration should be continued, Haas said.

He reported that the U.S. Catholic bishops last week passed a modified version of Directive 58 of the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) for Catholic healthcare. This directive spoke of “the moral obligation to continue to provide hydration and nutrition to patients in a compromised state,” Haas said.

“This obligation extends to patients in chronic conditions (e.g. the ‘persistent vegetative state’) who can reasonably be expected to live indefinitely if given such care,” the ERD read.

“The bishops have always held to that position,” Haas explained, but some other Catholic voices have not.

In 2004, Haas noted, Pope John Paul II delivered an allocution in which he again said it is necessary to provide hydration and nutrition as long as it is “achieving its end” of nurturing the body.

Houben’s recovery, he said, would seem to be “a case where the Church’s position was actually ahead of the curve.”

Asked about Dr. Laureys’ comments about the difficulty of a patient permanently labeled as “unconscious,” Haas said he hoped health care providers would not have negative attitudes towards such patients.

However, he noted that Pope John Paul II described how “regrettable” it was that the medical term for such patients was “persistent vegetative state.”

Some doctors’ comments and medical terminologies “do tend to devalue and demean these people, which is really unfortunate.”

He said the case could help confirm the position of those who oppose physician-assisted suicide, but where the practice is legalized the patients are generally required to be conscious and responsive.

However, Houben’s case would be relevant to those with advanced medical directives who say they want artificial hydration and nutrition removed if they are unconscious and unlikely ever to wake.

The Catholic tradition holds that hydration and nutrition cannot be removed if a person will die of dehydration and starvation, Haas reiterated.

I’m not sure that CNA should have let this last statement stand.  I think what the Church is teaching goes beyond small “t” tradition–I’m not sure where JPII’s ‘allocution’ falls.  I’m sure one of you will correct me on that, if I’m wrong.  I’d also go one further than Mr. Haas to say that–as we have seen time and again (contraceptives, artificial insemination, stem cell research)–the Church is always ahead of the curve.  And over at The American Catholic blog, in an article with a  wonderfully complete title, Dave Hartline agrees with me.

Catholic bioethicist weighs in on paralyzed man thought to be unconscious for 23 years.

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…you had better have an improved way of checking the brain than currently exists.  I mean, I’m repeating myself here, but–doctors really don’t know much about brain injury…or how the brain works…or even if it is working.  As is proven by the news from the UK that doctors misdiagnosed a supposed “vegetative coma patient” for TWENTY-THREE YEARS!  My comments in brackets.  All emphases are mine, too.

A man thought by doctors to be in a vegetative state for 23 years was actually conscious the whole time, it was revealed last night.

Student Rom Houben was misdiagnosed after a car crash left him totally paralysed.

He had no way of letting experts, family or friends know he could hear every word they said.

‘I screamed, but there was nothing to hear,’ said Mr Houben, now 46. [doesn’t this sound like a horrific episode of The Twilight Zone? but this really happened!]

Doctors used a range of coma tests, recognised worldwide, [but apparently pretty lousy] before reluctantly concluding that his consciousness was ‘extinct’. [um, ‘reluctantly’?  just stick to the facts, reporter]

But three years ago, new hi-tech scans showed his brain was still functioning almost completely normally. [if this happened three years ago, why is it only now being reported?]

“Almost completely normally”–yet it went unnoticed for twenty-three years.  I don’t care how reluctant the doctors were, the fact is, they did not have a clue.  I’ll let that sink into your brain, no pun intended.  This is an area that I will post about whenever and wherever I find it, and it can’t be said enough:  we really do not know what is going on within the trapped consciousness of these patients.  “We” meaning, the experts, doctors and scientists, not to mention the family members who are making life and death decisions based on the opinion of one doctor (in most cases) with one other doctor signing off.  Yet, we see that our society time and again certifies these patients for death.  It’s truly horrifying.   Think this is a fluke?  read on.

Mr Houben, a former martial arts enthusiast, was paralysed in 1983.

Doctors in Zolder, Belgium, used the internationally accepted Glasgow Coma Scale to assess his eye, verbal and motor responses.

But each time he was graded incorrectly. [how accurate can this scale be?  what criteria is used to train on reading it or interpreting it? if ‘internationally accepted’,  is it being used here in our local hospitals?]

Only a re-evaluation of his case at the University of Liege discovered that he had lost control of his body but was still fully aware of what was happening.

He is never likely to leave hospital, but as well as his computer he now has a special device above his bed which lets him read books while lying down.

Mr Houben said: ‘I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me – it was my second birth.

‘I want to read, talk with my friends via the computer and enjoy my life now that people know I am not dead.’  [And thankfully he was not made to BE DEAD through the removal of food and water, which could easily happen these days.]

Dr Laureys’s new study claims that patients classed as in a vegetative state are often misdiagnosed

‘Anyone who bears the stamp of “unconscious” just one time hardly ever gets rid of it again,’ he said.

The doctor, who leads the Coma Science Group and Department of Neurology at Liege University Hospital, found Mr Houben’s brain was still working by using state-of-the-art imaging.

He plans to use the case to highlight what he considers may be similar examples around the world[I really want to read about those, don’t you?]

Dr Laureys said: ‘In Germany alone each year some 100,000 people suffer from severe traumatic brain injury.

‘About 20,000 are followed by a coma of three weeks or longer. Some of them die, others regain health.

‘But an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people a year remain trapped in an intermediate stage – they go on living without ever coming back again.’  [That’s a lot of people!]

Supporters of euthanasia and assisted suicide argue that people who have lain in persistent vegetative states for years should be given the opportunity to have crucial medical support withdrawn because of the ‘indignity’ of their condition.  [Who writes this stuff?  “given the opportunity” to choke to death on their swollen tongues?  What an opportunity!  Yes, I am sure they wouldn’t want the indignity of life.]

But there have been several cases in which people judged to be in vegetative states or deep comas have recovered.

Twenty years ago, Carrie Coons, an 86-year-old from New York, regained consciousness after a year, took small amounts of food by mouth and engaged in conversation.

Only days before her recovery, a judge had granted her family’s request for the removal of the feeding tube which had been keeping her alive.  [I hope her first act was to change her will]

In the UK in 1993, doctors switched off the life support system keeping alive Tony Bland, a 22-year- old who had been in a coma for three years following the Hillsborough disaster.

Dr Laureys was not available for comment yesterday and it is not clear why he thought Mr Houben should have the hi-tech screening when so many years had passed.  [my completely uneducated guess, based on his comments, is that this is a doctor who has not sold out to the culture of death]

Let us pray for those who have received brain injuries, those who are in vegetative states and those for whom doctors and nurses are caring who may not be able to communicate with them, just as this young man was trapped within himself for 23 years.  Let us pray that medicine continues to improve.  And let us pray that we stamp out the widescale disposal of our medical ethics and our morals in this climate of relativism…this culture of death.

UPDATE:  A Catholic bioethics expert weighs in on the case of Rom Houben

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Ugh.  The killing of unborn children in unsuccessful attempts to help other humans is moving forward, thanks to the new policies of the Obama administration and despite widespread medical doubt that embryonic research can result in cures and in fact, may do more harm than good.   The reason that the chief scientific officer at Advanced Cell Technology says “the field desperately needs a big clinical success” is because THERE HAVEN’T BEEN ANY CURES VIA EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS.  And this guy wants to keep making the big bucks, even if it means killing unborn children.  And we know that other —and better— options are out there.

Embryonic stem cell therapy closer to human trials

by Mira Oberman Mira Oberman Thu Nov 19, 1:13 pm ET

CHICAGO (AFP) – Embryonic stem cell therapy got a step closer to the clinic Thursday after US researchers said they filed a request for government approval of human trials.

The trials would involve 12 patients losing their sight to a currently untreatable disease called Stargardt, which is one of the most common forms of juvenile blindness.

The treatment would consist of a single injection of retinal cells derived from embryonic stem cells.

Previous studies in rats and mice have found that the treatment prevented further vision loss without adverse side effects, said Robert Lanza, the chief scientific officer at Advanced Cell Technology.

It works by replacing lost retinal cells — called retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) — which maintain the photoreceptors needed for vision.

“If you start to lose these RPE, the environment for the photoreceptors degenerates,” Lanza said in a telephone interview.

“By putting these RPEs back in you can prevent the loss of these photoreceptors and prevent blindness.”

The trials could begin as early as the beginning of next year if the Food and Drug Administration grants approval, Lanza said.

This is just the second proposal for a clinical trial of embryonic stem cell therapies that has been submitted for approval, he added.

The other project, which would address spinal cord injuries, has been placed on hold and is not expected to begin before the third quarter of 2010, according to a recent press release from California-based Geron.

“After years of research and political debate, we’re finally on the verge of showing the potential clinical value of embryonic stem cells,” Lanza said.

“The field desperately needs a big clinical success.”

Embryonic stem cell research is controversial because human embryos are destroyed in order to obtain the primitive cells capable of developing into almost every tissue of the body.

But it also holds great promise for treating cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other diseases and even growing transplantable organs and tissues.

Researchers have found a way to sidestep both the controversy and the difficulty of working with embryonic stem cells by reprogramming ordinary skin cells into stem cells.

But this method is still so new that it could take years to replicate the experiments already done with embryonic stem cells and build up similar banks of tested cell lines, Lanza said.

“That is not a substitute certainly in the next several years for embryonic stem cell therapy,” he said.

The Massachusetts-based company will be seeking approval for a human trial using similar methods to treat age-related macular degeneration, Lanza added.

I’d like to take this opportunity to virtually thwack those of my fellow Catholics and Christians who voted for Barack Obama, especially sweet little naive Carmen** from my parish who insistently believed that ‘a president Obama would respect all life’.  Within two months he had gotten the FDA to approve embryonic stem cell research.  

*thwack*

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20091119/hl_afp/healthmedicinestemcell

**name changed for privacy reasons, natch

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