Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, May 13, 2024

First person to receive a genetically modified pig kidney transplant dies nearly 2 months later

Screenshot 2024-05-12 at 9.24.20 PMRichard "Rick" Slayman, the first recipient of a genetically modified pig kidney transplant, has passed away nearly two months after undergoing the groundbreaking procedure at Massachusetts General Hospital in March. Surgeons had initially anticipated that the pig kidney would function for at least two years. Slayman, aged 62, received the transplant after experiencing complications from a previous kidney transplant in 2018.

Although Slayman's family and the hospital expressed deep sadness at his passing, they clarified that there was no indication that his death was directly related to the transplant. The procedure marked a significant milestone in xenotransplantation, offering hope for those awaiting organ transplants. Previously, pig kidneys had been temporarily transplanted into brain-dead donors, with limited success.

Slayman's family expressed gratitude towards his doctors for their efforts in facilitating the xenotransplant, extending their appreciation for the additional time it afforded them with Rick. They highlighted his decision to undergo the surgery as a beacon of hope for thousands awaiting transplants, emphasizing his enduring legacy of optimism. Xenotransplantation, involving the use of animal organs to heal humans, represents a promising avenue in addressing the critical shortage of organs for transplantation, with over 100,000 people currently on the national waiting list.

For more information see Associated Press “First person to receive a genetically modified pig kidney transplant dies nearly 2 months later”, Yahoo Entertainment, May 11, 2024. 

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

May 13, 2024 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 25, 2022

Panel urges changes to make US organ transplants more fair

Estate planningAccording to an influential scientific advisory panel, "the U.S. transplant system needs an overhaul to stop wasting organs and give more patients a fair chance at the life-saving surgery. . ." 

Last year, the U.S. performed more than 41,000 transplants of kidneys, livers, and other organs, a record number—most of which came from donations from the dead. According to everythingLubbock, "[m]ore than 106,000 patients are on the nation's list for a transplant from a deceased donor and at least 17 die every day waiting." 

Due to the astounding numbers, the Panel has set a five-year deadline to turn things around. According to Dr. Kenneth Kizer, a well known expert in health care quality who chaired the panel, "A lot of things can be done to make the system work better for people." 

Among other things, the Panel concluded that the Department of Health and Human Services should set national performance goals "that include ranching at least 50,000 transplants each year by 2026, although a speedup is necessary to achieve national performance goals" and  "hospitals should reduce organ waste and be candid with patients about the option of a less-than-perfect offer. . ." 

See Lauren Neergaard, Panel urges changes to make US organ transplants more fair, EverythingLubbock, February 25, 2021. 

February 25, 2022 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, October 25, 2021

Surgeon transplants a pig's kidney into a brain-dead human in groundbreaking surgery

Robert Montgomery, a New York transplant surgeon, "conducted a successful surgery that transplanted a pig's kidney into a brain-dead human." 

US surgeons say that the successful transplant could ultimately be the key to solving donor organ shortages. The recipient of the kidney was brain-dead, and was on artificial life support "with no prospect of recovering." 

The kidney came from a pig that had been genetically modified to stop the organ being recognized by the body as "foreign" and being rejected. 

Although the work has not been peer-reviewed or published, there are plans to do so, and experts say it is the "most advanced experiment in the field so far." 

See Michelle Roberts, Surgeon transplants a pig's kidney into a brain-dead human in groundbreaking surgery, BBC, October 21, 2021. 

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

October 25, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 3, 2021

Earlier Diabetes Onset Could Raise Dementia Risk

AlzheimersThe younger the age of a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis, the higher the risk for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. 

Type 2 diabetes, a chronic and progressive illness, has the power to create a plethora of health complications—dangerous complications. These complications include, hearing loss, blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and vascular damage so severe as to require limb amputation. A new study has just added dementia to that long list. 

Given the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in America, this added complication is quite alarming. "Once referred to as “adult-onset diabetes” to distinguish it from the immune-related “juvenile-onset” Type 1 disease that begins in childhood, Type 2 diabetes is seen in younger and younger people, largely tied to rising rates of obesity."

It is important to note that the study does not provide conclusive evidence that diabetes causes dementia. However, "[t]he researchers controlled for many factors that affect the risk for dementia, including race, education, heart conditions, stroke, smoking and physical activity, and the diabetes-dementia link persisted."

See Nicholas Bakalar, Earlier Diabetes Onset Could Raise Dementia Risk, N.Y. Times, May 3, 2021. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

May 3, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

How Doctors Die

DoctorsOne would expect medical professionals to obtain treatment when faced with a mental illness. However, surprisingly, medical professionals often don't seek treatment. 

Charlie, a respected orthopedist, found a lump in his stomach, which he had a surgeon check out. The lump turned out to be pancreatic cancer. The surgeon was one of the best in the country and had invented a new procedure for pancreatic cancer that could "triple a patient's five-year-survival odds—from 5 percent to 15 percent—albeit with a poor quality of life." 

Not only was Charlie not interested in the new procedure, but he closed his practiced and "never set foot in a hospital again." Charlie spent the rest of his life spending time with family. He never received chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical treatment. 

Doctors spend a lot of time saving lives, but they can die like the rest of us. As experts, doctors are well aware of what is going to happen to them, and of course they do not want to die. 

It is their knowledge of modern medicine and its limits that keep them from receiving treatment for terminal illnesses. Many medical professionals would rather go gently than to live through the pain and side effects that are often a part of treatment and "heroic measures." 

Thus, many doctors would rather suffer naturally and not exacerbate this suffering with treatments and surgeries. 

See Ken Murray, M.D., How Doctors Die, The Saturday Evening Post: Caregiving, March 6, 2013. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

April 7, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 3, 2021

EXERCISE MAY HELP SLOW COGNITIVE DECLINE IN SOME PEOPLE WITH PARKINSON’S DISEASE

ParkinsonsParkinson's disease can and often does affect thinking and memory skills. Actually, these problems are "among the most common nonmotor symptoms of the disease." "A new study shows that exercise may help slow cognitive decline for some people with the disease." 

Research has also indicated that those with Parkinson's disease who have the gene variant apolipoprotein E e4 or APOE e4, may experience cognitive decline at an earlier, and quicker rate than those without the variant. Also, APOE e4 is known as a "genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease." 

The mew study focused on whether exercise could slow down the cognitive decline for people that have the APOE e4 variant. 

According to Jin-Sun Jun, M.D., of Hallym University in Seoul, Korea stated, “[p]roblems with thinking skills and memory can have a negative impact on people’s quality of life and ability to function, so it’s exciting that increasing physical activity could have the potential to delay or prevent cognitive decline.”

Jun also stated that there will need to be more research done in order to confirm the findings, but the results of the research suggests that "interventions that target physical activity" play a role in delaying cognitive decline in people with early Parkinson's who have the APOE e4 gene variant. 

See EXERCISE MAY HELP SLOW COGNITIVE DECLINE IN SOME PEOPLE WITH PARKINSON’S DISEASE, American Academy of Neurology, March 31, 2021. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

April 3, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 28, 2021

NHS saves children’s lives with world-first ‘dead’ heart transplants

ANNAAnna Hadley, a 16-year-old from Worcester, waited for nearly two years for a new heart. Now, almost two years later, Anna is healthy and playing hockey again. Anna has British surgeons to thank, as they "carried out the world's first transplants in children using dead hearts that were brought back to life." 

The surgeons used a pioneering machine to reanimate hearts from donors whose hearts stopped. So far, use of the machine has saved the lives of six British children ranging in age form 12 to 16. Also, each of the transplants occurred during the pandemic. 

Anna was the first to have her life saved by the pioneering machine. She received the call at 2:30am after she had waited almost two years after being diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy. 

Within 24 hours of the operation, Anna was sitting up in bed. Within weeks, Anna was playing hockey again. Anna said, "I just feel normal again. There's nothing I cannot do now."

See Andrew Gregory, NHS saves children’s lives with world-first ‘dead’ heart transplants, The Sunday Times (U.K.), February 20, 2021. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

February 28, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Apple Watch can help track Parkinson’s disease symptoms, research shows

Apple watchApple watches have become increasingly popular as the amount of features they have continues to increase with new models and updates. Recent health research has lead to the possibility of an even greater feature. 

The new feature would monitor symptoms of Parkinson's disease. "Researchers at Apple, working with specialists who treat Parkinson’s, designed a system that uses the Apple Watch to detect the motor symptoms that are a hallmark of the neurological disease." 

The researchers monitored resting tremors and other involuntary movements to "identify the characteristic 'on' and 'off' patterns of medication's effects." If the research is successful and implemented, the feature could be used as a "round-the-clock" monitoring system. As of now, Parkinson's specialists typically rely on clinical visits and self-reporting to monitor the disease and the effects of the medications that patients are taking. 

This would not be the first time that a device could provide this type of monitoring, but given the popularity and comfortability surrounding the Apple Watch, there would be many advantages to this feature. 

Michael Okun, executive director at the Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases, “Having the ability to take a commonly available device that’s already out there like an Apple Watch … and be able to do this type of monitoring is really nice because you’ll be able to give the clinicians who are caring for these people in their home a much clearer idea of what’s going on throughout the cycle of the day.”

See Mario Aguilar, Apple Watch can help track Parkinson’s disease symptoms, research shows, February 3, 2021. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

February 7, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 5, 2021

Alzheimer’s Prediction May Be Found in Writing Tests

Alzheimers
It could be possible to predict who will develop Alzheimer's by looking at writing patterns. "IBM researchers trained artificial intelligence to pick up hints of changes in language ahead of the onset of neurological diseases. 

The IBM researchers, along with other, say that this research is just the beginning. "People with a wide variety of neurological illnesses have distinctive language patterns that, investigators suspect, may serve as early warning signs of their diseases." 

The Alzheimer's study focused on 80 men and women, all in their 80s. Half of them had Alzheimer's and the other half did not. 

As part of the study, the group took a writing test before any of them had developed the disease. The test asks the participants to describe "a drawing of a boy standing on an unsteady stool and reaching for a cookie jar on a high shelf while a woman, her back to him, is oblivious to an overflowing sink." 

The researchers used the subjects' responses to analyze their word usage with an artificial intelligence program that looked for "subtle differences in language." 

The A.I program predicted who would get Alzheimer's with 75% accuracy. 

See Gina Kolata, Alzheimer’s Prediction May Be Found in Writing Tests, N.Y. Times, February 1, 2021. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

February 5, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 4, 2021

The Case of the Serial Sperm Donor

SpermdonorIn 2015, Vanessa van Ewijk decided to use a sperm donor to have a child, given the high cost of going through a fertility clinic. Van Ewijk decided to use a website called Desire for a Child which is an online sperm market that matches candidate donors and potential recipients. 

Van Ewijk was particularly interested in Jonathan Jacob Meijer, a Dutch musician in his 30s. Van Ewijk said that he appeared very genuine stating, “I spoke to him on the phone and he seemed gentle and kind and well-behaved,” she said. “He liked music, and he talked about his thoughts on life. He didn’t come on strong in any sense. He seemed like the boy next door.”

Van Ewijk and Mr. Meijer eventually met and Mr. Meijer provided Van Ewijk with his sperm in exchange for 65 euros (about $200). Van Ewijk eventually gave birth to a daughter, which was Mr. Meijer's eighth child. 

In 2017, van Ewijk reached out to Mr. Meijer again and made another purchase of a sperm. This time, van Ewijk had a baby boy. Before reaching out to Mr. Meijer the second time, van Ewijk had learned that Mr. Meijer had fathered at least 102 children in the Netherlands. 

Although van Ewijk was alarmed, she wanted her children to be full siblings, so she reached out to Meijer nonetheless. 

The want for children to be full siblings is especially popular in Netherlands because as a small country, there is a higher chance of half siblings meeting each other—completely unaware of their relation—and have kids of their owns. These children would have a heightened risk of carrying hereditary defects. 

Van Ewijk decided to confront Meijer and he admitted to her that he had fathered at least 175 children, even admitting there could be more. 

See Jacqueline Mroz, The Case of the Serial Sperm Donor, February 1, 2021.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

 

 

 

February 4, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)