‘Penicillin Girl’ Genean Hixon dies at 82

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A woman whose breakthrough treatment with penicillin during World War II led to modern medical practices died March 1, two days before her 83rd birthday.

Genean Hixon, better known in the 1940s as the “Penicillin Girl,” was at the age of 12 one of the first American civilians to be treated with what The Denver Post called the “mysterious miracle drug” in a series of articles on her progress.

Hixon, born Genean Smith on March 3, 1931, was hospitalized on July 24, 1943, with severe osteomyelitis — a bone disease that at the time was seemingly incurable and potentially fatal.

Hixon’s daughter, Connie Hixon Davis, said her mother spent more than four years in hospital beds in her teens, but was saved early on by the penicillin treatment.

“Interestingly, she developed an allergy to penicillin and couldn’t take it in her later years,” Connie said.

Hixon was diagnosed with liver cancer in December, which led to her death. She is survived by a large family including her husband Donald, 87, a brother Gerald Smith, 79, four children, 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Throughout her life, Genean remained as avid a reader and seamstress as when she was cooped up in Denver General hospital as a young woman.

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Student With Hole in Heart to Undergo N3.47 million for Surgery

heart hole

Ifeoma Igbo was born with patent ductus arterosus (PDA) a congenital heart condition that’s left an open hole at the top of her heart.

She has been hospitalized with a “history of difficulty in breathing and lower respiratory tract infection during infancy and early childhood,” her medical report at Usman Danfodio University Teaching Hospital said.

Dr Usman Sani, consultant paediatric cardiologist at UDUTH, reported a heart murmur on examination but said Ifeoma had been only on “conservative management” and referred her to Madras Medical Mission in Chennai, India for surgery.

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Famous Amnesia Patient’s Brain Cut into 2,401 Slices

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At age 27, H.M., whose real name was Henry Molaison, underwent an experimental surgical treatment for his debilitating epilepsy. His surgeon removed the medial temporal lobe, including a structure called the hippocampus.

Thereafter, H.M. was unable to form new memories. His case brought about the idea that the hippocampus may have a crucial role in retaining learned facts, replacing the notion that memories are scattered throughout the brain. H.M. became the focus of more than 50 years of memory research, working closely with the researchers who had to introduce themselves every time they met.

“Much of what we know about human memory, it has one way or another to do with H.M.,” said study researcher Jacopo Annese, director of The Brain Observatory in San Diego.

After H.M.’s death in 2008, Annese and his colleagues cut the patient’s frozen brain into 2,401 slices, each 0.7-millimeters thick. They took a picture of every slice, and created a high-resolution, 3D model of his brain.

Source: live science

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A girl dies in Ireland after pharmacy refuses to give her EpiPen

ImageA teenage girl has died outside a pharmacy in Ireland after a staff member refused to give her family an EpiPen to inject her for a nut allergy because she didn’t have a prescription.

Emma Sloan, 14, was out for dinner in Dublin with her family when she accidentally ingested a sauce containing nuts that she mistook for curry, the Irish Herald reported.

The teenager suffered a severe allergic reaction but was not carrying an EpiPen, which delivers a shot of adrenaline that can reverse the effects of a severe, fast-acting reaction known as anaphylactic shock.

The family went to a nearby pharmacy and pleaded for an EpiPen but Emma’s mother, Caroline Sloan, said a male staff member refused to give them one without a prescription.

“He told me I couldn’t get it without a prescription. He told me to bring her to an A&E,” she told the newspaper.
Mrs Sloan said she tried to take Emma to Temple Street Hospital, but her daughter collapsed and died on the way.
“She died on the footpath. A doctor was passing and tried to help and put her into the recovery position. Ambulance and fire brigade men worked on her. But she was gone,” Mrs Sloan told the Herald.

“My daughter died on a street corner with a crowd around her. ”I’m so angry I was not given the EpiPen to inject her. I was told to bring Emma to an A&E department. Emma was allergic to nuts and was very careful. How could a peanut kill my child?
“I want to appeal to parents of children with nut allergies to make sure their child always carries an EpiPen with them.”

Regulations prohibit the dispensing of EpiPen injections without a prescription, the Irish Herald reported.
Mrs Sloan said she had gone to an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet with Emma and her two other daughters on Wednesday evening for a family meal.

While Emma was usually extremely careful about what she ate, on this occasion she overlooked a sign that warned a sauce contained nuts, Mrs Sloan said.

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Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Being overweight may affect men’s semen quality

ImageOverweight and obese men in a new study showed diminished quantity and quality of semen, suggesting that a weight problem might also affect fertility, researchers say.

“The heavier the men, the higher the chances of a low sperm count,” urologist Dr. Keith Jarvi told Reuters Health. “I don’t think that this message is well known or appreciated by men in general,” said Jarvi, who was not involved in the new study.

Dr. Michael Eisenberg, of Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and his colleagues recruited 468 couples in Texas and Michigan who were planning to conceive a child and tested several aspects of the men’s semen.

They also weighed the men and measured their waists and found that greater waist circumference and body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight relative to height – were both linked to lower ejaculate volume.

“All aspects of semen quality are important,” Eisenberg said. “Ejaculate has several chemicals that provide a safer environment for sperm. As such, if the volume is low it may be a problem.”

Sperm count, another important metric, was lower among men with bigger waists.

“The sperm count is just that: the number of sperm in each cc of semen,” said Jarvi, director of the Murray Koffler Urologic Wellness Centre and Head of Urology at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

Higher semen volume, within the optimal range between 2 and 5 milliliters, will overall have more sperm, Jarvi said. A volume under 1.5 mLs may cause infertility, he said, but too much is not good either.

In the study, a typical man in the normal BMI range had an ejaculate volume of 3.3 mL, compared to 2.8 mL for men in the highest BMI category, severely obese.

Men with the largest waists, over 40 inches, had about 22 percent lower total sperm count compared to men with waist measurements under 37 inches.

There appeared to be no link to semen concentration, motility, vitality or physical appearance, according to the results published in the journal Human Reproduction.

About half of the men had already fathered children when the study took place and none of the couples were seeking help with infertility when they were recruited.

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Source: Reuters

Pre-Natal Care Goes Mobile in Uganda

ImageIn Uganda, three students have invented a smartphone application that can measure the heartbeat of a fetus. The device could improve prenatal care in rural clinics, and may even help prevent deaths during childbirth.

Joshua Okello’s first love was medicine. He studied to be a doctor before quitting to pursue his second love: technology. However, his interest in medicine never left him. Last year, Okello and two other students at Kampala’s Makerere University invented a smartphone application that they think could change the face of maternal health care in Africa.

The app is called a WinSenga – “senga” is the local term for an aunt who helps out during pregnancy. It consists of a tiny microphone in a plastic horn, based on the Pinard horn used by midwives for centuries.

“It’s a long cone-shaped device with a hole through it and a flat top. The midwife places it on the belly and listens in. Every midwife in this country has seen it, and that is what they are trained with,” said Okello.

The sound the horn picks up is fed into a smartphone that records and analyzes the fetal heartbeat. From there, said Okello, the WinSenga suggests different courses of action.

“Say you have a baby and we detect that the heartbeat is less than 120 beats per minute. That is a problem. So immediately, we pop up something that says ‘Please, we suggest that you could do A, B, C, D,’” explained Okello.

The device is not yet fully functional, but last year Okello and his partners won a $50,000 grant from Microsoft – the “Win” in WinSenga is short for Windows. They are now developing their app from a Microsoft-funded technology incubator at the university, set up to encourage Uganda’s nascent tech sector.

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Source: All Africa

Blue pills may help alleviate menstrual cramps

ImageViagra may no longer be just for the gentlemen. A new study suggests that those little blue pills may also help women, though not in the way you might think.

Researchers have found that sildenafil citrate, the main ingredient in Viagra, Revatio and other drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction, can also be used to alleviate moderate to severe menstrual cramping in women.

“It seems counter intuitive, but what sildenafil citrate does is dilate blood vessels,” said Richard Legro, a gynecologist at Penn State College of Medicine and one of the authors of the study. “It leads to an erection in men, but in women, we think it can be an effective treatment for acute menstrual pain.”

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Source:  Los Angeles Times