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Organ-donating practice raises questions

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            HEALTH TIPS - Monday, March 20, 2007
               "News That Keeps You Healthy"   

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     Organ-donating practice raises questions

WASHINGTON,  -- An approach to organ transplants, 
in which an organ is taken from a patient just 
minutes after death, is growing in popularity in many U.S. 
hospitals. The practice has been in place for decades but 
has seen unprecedented growth in recent years, the 
Washington Post reported. Since the 1970s, most organ donors 
have organs removed only after doctors declare them brain 
dead. But this quicker alternative is being adopted more and 
more to meet the demand for organs such as livers, lungs and 
hearts. The number of such donations rose from 268 in 2003 
to at least 605 in 2006, the Post reported. Some ethicists 
argue that the approach undermines the well-being of the 
donor and can lead to doctors inappropriately anticipating 
the death of a patient. "The image this creates is people 
hovering over the body trying to get organs any way they 
can," said Michael A. Grodin, who directs Boston 
University's Bioethics and Human Rights Program. "There's a 
kind of macabre flavor to it." Other authorities worry that 
the practice could deter people from signing up to donate 
organs, but hospital advocates cite the stringent guidelines 
of most hospitals.

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     Children's OTC medicines could be harmful

WASHINGTON,  -- Many top U.S. pediatricians 
say cough and cold remedies for children are not effective 
and can even cause harm. A review of over-the-counter 
children's medicines found that elixirs like Dimetapp and 
Triaminic do not work as advertised and can have harmful 
side effects -- including infant death from accidental over-
doses -- The Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger reported. The 
newspaper reported on one woman who gave her 13-year-old 
daughter an OTC cough remedy for children, only to have her 
daughter later wake up hallucinating. Dextromethorphan and 
phenylephrine are two of the ingredients in most children's 
cough and cold remedies that are believed to be able to 
cause hallucinating -- as well as irregular heartbeat and 
other cardiovascular problems, hypertension, seizures, 
nervousness, dizziness, excitability, upset stomach and 
drowsiness, the report said. The issue rose to the agenda 
after a group of prominent health officials filed a petition
with the Food and Drug Administration urging drug companies 
to stop marketing such products.
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     Possible treatment for neuroblastoma found

STONY BROOK, N.Y., -- U.S. scientists have determined the 
virus that causes polio might be useful in treating another 
childhood disease -- neuroblastoma. The Stony Brook 
University researchers found an attenuated form of 
poliovirus is effective in obliterating neuroblastoma tumors
in mice, even when the mice had been previously vaccinated 
against the polio virus. By its nature, poliovirus destroys 
the cells it infects in an attempt to replicate itself. When 
released from the cells it kills, the replicated particles 
then attack surrounding cells. The Stony Brook scientists 
injected a stable, non-virulent strain of poliovirus 
directly into neuroblastoma tumors transplanted into 12 mice
engineered to contract polio. The virus was able to destroy 
tumors in all 12 mice, although tumors reoccurred in two of 
the mice by the end of the 180-day study period. None of the
mice experienced any ill effects from the virus itself. The 
researchers, led by Dr. Hidemi Toyoda, said they believe 
their findings, if developed to work in humans, could 
represent a safe, practical means of treating a deadly 
childhood cancer and possibly many other cancers in adults.
The study is reported in the current issue of the journal 
Cancer Research.

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