Category Archives: health

Toronto’s TeamSickKids Off For the 17th World Transplant Games

A group of athletes from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children are headed to the Gold Coast of Australia to compete in the 17th World Transplant Games with TeamCanada.
Each one of the 25 members of the team have received a heart, lung, liver or kidney transplant. The athletes have been training for months to take part in the games held August 22 to August 30. Sick Kids reports:

“One of the main goals of our organ transplantation program is to provide a better quality of life and as normal a childhood as possible,” said Mary Jo Haddad, President and CEO of SickKids. “Our patients’ participation in the World Transplant Games is a testament not only to the quality of care they have received but also to their own and their families’ resolve. It is their determination, spirit and enthusiasm that we are celebrating today.”

The children that left for the Gold Coast have prepared for several months in an exercise training program with SickKids physiotherapists. This is the second time the team has appeared at the World Transplant Games. In 2007 the 17 heart transplant patients that attended brought Canada back 38 medals from Bangkok, Thailand. The team was the only delegation from Canada to send a team to the Games at that time. This year’s team all receive their treatments at SickKids. The team is comprised of members from eight to 18 years of age. Sick Kids quotes Dr. Anne Dipchand:

“At the 2007 Games, Team SickKids athletes had the opportunity to meet and interact with transplant recipients of all ages and organs,” said Dr. Anne Dipchand, Associate Director of the SickKids Transplant Centre, Head of the SickKids Heart Transplant Program and General Manager of Team SickKids. “One of the greatest highlights for both the parents and the kids was to see people who had received organ transplants as kids, who have grown up into adults leading healthy, successful and fulfilling lives.”

Returning champ Jessica Dorcich, 10, enjoys the chance to meet with other heart transplant patients just like her.

“Even though we have all had different experiences, it is nice to know that we have this chance to come together and compete and show the world what we can do,” she said.

The Daily Observer says that more than 1,500 people from 60 countries will be Down Under competing in the Games this year.

Zinc pill can stop childhood diarrhea deaths

One pill can save a child in Africa suffering from diarrhea. The hand of death takes 1.6 million children under the age of 5 world-wide from the ravages of the bowel condition according to the World Health Organization.
In Africa and Asia millions die each year from the affects of diarrhea. That seems a high figure to those in those in the West. More children die from the disease than from malaria or AIDS. That could end if children are given a single Zinc pill. It appears the medication stops diarrhea in its tracks. That appears to be the findings in many studies, including one done in New Delhi, India. With charity support some villages are seeing a turn around because of the pills. Bill and Melinda Gate’s charity work along with the Idol Gives Back program are just two that are helping supply village medical clinics with zinc pills. Time reports:

“Before, we were terrified when children’s stomachs began running, because we knew some of them would die,” says Sata Djialla in the Malian village of Morola. “Now our children are not dying of diarrhea.”

The reason the pill works is because many in undeveloped nations have zinc deficiencies. Zinc deficiency lowers the immune system making children and adults more susceptible to infections that cause diarrhea. Zinc has also been shown to increase the activation of T cells that destroy viruses and bacteria. With this new awareness it is possible that childhood deaths may decrease in the near future.

Canada needs sperm donors

Thousands of Canadians who are infertile in Canada have to place all their hopes on just 33 men who are Canadian sperm donors. Other donors are imported from outside of the nation, a result of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act.

At one time Canada had two dozen sperm banks but when the Assisted Human Reproduction Act made it illegal to pay for sperm or egg donors they dried up in 2004. Today there are very few men willing to give up their sperm for nothing. CTV reports:

“Today, there is one South Asian donor for all of Canada,” he says, noting that couples are often shocked at the limited choices. “There is a significant shortage of donor semen in this country, yes.”

While it seems like being a donor is as easy as a sit-com plot in reality there is a screening process that takes time. Egg donors have to inject themselves with fertility medications and then suffer through a painful procedure to extract eggs. For men the process is simpler, a cup and perhaps a couple of Hustler magazines, but it’s no guarantee that the sperm can be used. For every 100 donor candidates only 5 have buggers that swim the right way. For couples wanting to be parents that’s not good news. Outreach Health Services is the biggest supplier of donor sperm but it has to import their product. Most of the donors are from Georgia and Florida where donors are paid $100 per visit. Clients can look through donor listings to select that special sperm, as long as they don’t mind it being foreign brewed. The clinics have little choice with the heavy rules applying to home breed donors. CTV reports:

“The legislation said donors could only be compensated for expenses that could be receipted. There was a grace period where people could be compensated for non-receipted period and we’ve been in that grace period ever since,” Dr. Cliff Librach of the CReATe Fertility Centre in Toronto told, explaining how they’ve managed to keep the Canadian donors they have.

Ontario Living Pink Balloon Event is Slated for September 5

On September 5 The Living Pink Balloon Event will take place at Alderville First Nation Ball Diamond. The goal is 500 people wearing pink t-shirts forming a giant pink balloon in order to give Sick Kid’s Foundation $10,000 for brain research.
The Living Pink Balloon comes from two families dealing with the effects of brain disorders and their want to give back to Sick Children’s Hospital. Last September Hollie Gray, 10, was found unresponsive at her home. Her parents called for help and paramedics quickly took the little girl to the hospital. On route to Northumberland Hills Hospital Hollie’s heart stopped. Hollie was revived. At the hospital a mass was found on her brain. That discovery lead to a quick transfer to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto where her parents were told that their little girl was brain dead. The parents were approached by Trillium Gift of Life to discuss organ donation. Hollie’s parents decided that her spirit had to live on in others. Tanya Gray told Digital Journal that the day before her daughter Hollie died from a brain aneurysm she was joking and laughing while watching television with her family. “She had a mild headache the day before. I thought maybe she had the flu. Hollie was such a go-getter kid. She went to bed and just never woke up.” Brenna was diagnosed with craniopharyngioma or pituitary tumor in 2008. She had early symptoms that were unexplained until she had a CT scan after a third seizure. The little girl was taken to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. There she received treatment and is living a near normal life today. The families are asking people to purchase a pink t-shirt by August 20 from The Scissors Edge (1-905-352-2211) and Our House Snack ‘n’ Go in Alderville and at Herbal Magic in Cobourg, Ontario that will be on hand at Sick Kids on September 5 at the hospital. The goal is that 500 people in the t-shirts will help to form a human pink balloon to show recognition for the staff at the hospital. All proceeds will go to brain and behaviour research. Daryl Crowe says, “We understand that there are many causes and people are stretched thin but Sick Kids has touched everyone in some way. So please come out and help us give back.” On September 5 The Living Pink Balloon is hoping to gather 500 people in one place as a symbol of solidarity of support for Sick Kids Foundation wearing pink t-shirts. One giant pink balloon. The September 5 event will feature prizes, BBQ and Pony Rides. The cost is $25.00 a person which includes a Living Pink Balloon T-shirt. The shirts will be available for pick-up at the event. Please reserve your spot by August 20. Tanya Gray is encouraging companies to have teams register along with individuals. All proceeds from the event will go to Sick Kids Foundation.

Beads of Courage Help Cancer Kids Take the Next Step

Beads of Courage is an organization that helps children with cancer go the next step. Each bead has a special meaning, from trips to the cancer clinic to radiation treatments.
Beads of Courage is a special program for children facing a hard struggle-cancer. The is out of Tucson, Arizona and implemented in supportive care programs in various children’s hospitals in the United States. When a child is enrolled in the program they are given a membership card and a bead guide. They also receive a length of string and beads that spell their name. As they journey on through their treatments they receive a bead by their health care provider to add onto their string. Kids work for the Purple Heart bead. It means the end is here and they have finished their treatments. Their strings tell the story of their cancer treatment journey. Merry August is one of those children on that journey. She had 256 beads as of July 22, 2009. The fourteen-year-old has been ill since March 5 with acute lymphoblastic/lymphocystic leukemia. As she completes treatments at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia she gets a new bead. There are various ways to become involved in the program. Donations can be made directly on the Beads of Courage website. You can also buy beads on eBay, all proceeds go to the program.

Survival Tip: Heart Attack Patients Need To Be Cooled

In what could seem like a tale from of a science fiction book. the best way to protect a heart attack patient is by putting them on ice. Many hospitals have not begun to practice the procedure though.
When minutes can mean life or death going to the right hospital is just as important. The practice of cooling takes a recent heart attack patient’s body temperature down to 91 degrees for 24 hours. There is a good reason for this, the body doesn’t require the same amount of oxygen at this temperature. In the case of cardiac arrest almost 90 percent of patients die. When cooling is used those odds quickly change in favor of the patient, almost 37 percent of cooled patients survive. With a technique that’s fairly simply you would think it is being used everywhere, but it’s not. Only 34 percent of critical care doctors and just 16 percent of ER doctors have the equipment that is needed to rapidly cool a body. Hometown Station reports:

“We’ve done cooling measures for quite a long time, but there’s never been a concerted effort to go hospital-wide with the process, so that anyone who has a cardiac arrest in the local community or arrests in the hospital, has the ability to benefit from the protocol,” stated G. Scott Brewster, M.D., director of the Emergency Department at Providence Tarzana. “We’re creating a standardized approach that’s literature-based and coordinated between the Emergency Department and the ICU.”

In the United States that equipment is at less than 300 hospitals out of the more than 6,000 in the nation. The equipment is expensive, costing about $25,000 for a single cooling initially. After the equipment is in place though that cost goes down to about a thousand dollars per patient. 4VF reports:

“It’s a paradigm shift. We’re using this for people whose eyes are yellow, they’re not moving, and you’re telling doctors to cool these people for 24 hours, warm them up for a day, then take them to the cath lab. You’re doing all these things for people who look dead, sound dead and act dead. It’s asking a lot,” Dr. Ben Abella says

Cooling saved Henry Postulart of Toronto. Within two hours of what could have been a fatal cardiac arrest Mr. Postulart’s body temperature was at 91. Although he spent weeks in a medically induced coma Mr. Postulart walked out of the hospital two months after his October 15, 2008 heart attack. Without the cooling the chances are high that he wouldn’t have left the hospital alive. “I don’t exactly remember being cooled but thank God it was there.” This is a personal story, Henry is my husband. The decision for cooling was thrust at me during the first minutes, forms were signed and my husband survived. He is a walking miracle. There are risks. It is possible that the person will suffer another cardiac arrest when the warming process is started. It is possible that the person will not survive the cooling process. What is known though is that the cooling process gives cardiac arrest patients the best chance of survival, both for their heart and in the long term for their brain. The brain is affected by the loss of oxygen during cardiac arrest. Survivors generally have some form of brain injury when they recover. In Canada cooling heart attack patients is much more common than in the United States. Cardiac patients are transported to the closest hospital with the means to do the procedure as a norm, at least in Toronto.

Florida’s Home Grown Pot Trade Booming

Florida is the leader in indoor marijuana cultivation in the United States. The crops are hydroponic marijuana, grown without soil, giving it the highest level of THC marijuana on the market.
In 2008 there were 1,022 grow-ops busted in the state, up from the previous year’s 480. The average THC in the found crops was at 25 percent. Considering that the pot of yesteryear was at 7 per cent THC, it’s easy to understand that this is a potent plant. When grown indoors marijuana doesn’t have to deal with night hours, lights are used to nourish the plants 24 hours a day. The fertilizers that are used help hasten the growth and the THC levels in the plants. A pound of home grown marijuana can fetch $4,000 on the street in Florida. In other areas, that same crop can make it’s growers up to $8,000. Grow-ops generally have four crops a year. Police rely on tips to break up the indoor farms. One type of informant is the electric company. In one case an employee in Polk Country was sent out to shut down the power for nonpayment. When he heard a generator running in the backyard that day and on a following Monday he asked a person at the home about it. Or tried to, the man refused to comment so he called the sheriffs. That call led to one “sophisticated marijuana grow operation” being shut down. For growers the Internet is a hotbed of information on how to grow hydroponic marijuana. Many sites give step-by-step details on how to plant and harvest, from seed choice to what lighting is the best to use. The police know they may be fighting a long-term battle. As Time reports:

Captain Joe Mendez from the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area says, “If the economic downturn remains as it is, I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.”