Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 07:20 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
Born on October 24, 2006 at not quite 22 weeks of gestation, Amillia Sonja Taylor weighted only 10 ounces & was not expected to survive. She was only 9 1/2 inches long. Normal gestation is from 37 to 40 weeks. "We weren't too optimistic," admitted Dr. William Smalling, "but she proved us all wrong."
The Florida baby, who was conceived through in vitro fertilization, had respiratory & digestive problems & a mild brain hemorrhage, but seems to have conqured them all. She is still on some oxygen assistance, but is taking all of her nourishment by mouth & seems to be thriving. Doctores expect her to have no serious or persistent problems as she grows up. She is now nearly 26 inches long & weighs 4 1/2 pounds.
Amillia is the first child for Eddie & Sonja Taylor of Homestead, Florida.
Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 07:04 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
When he was born 18 weeks early in 1988, Derek Cooper weighed only 17 ounces & spent his first few years battling heart & lung problems. At the time he was the earliest born child to survive his birth after only 22 weeks of gestation.
Now the healthy 19 year old who still suffers from autistic dyslexia is preparing to compete in the Special Olympics in Shanghai, China later this year. Cooper is a champion horse rider & will be competing in a number of equestrian events, including the difficult dressage on behalf of Great Britain.
Cooper is from Kilwinning, Ayrshire. His mother, Sarah (45), said, "I am so happy for him. I was scared when he was born that he would not survive, but look at him now."
Monday, January 08 2007 @ 03:32 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
Scientists report that they have found a rich source of usable stem cells in the fluid that cushions preborn babies in the womb. They have already produced a variety of tissue types from these cells. Researchers at Wake Forest University & Harvard University reported that the stem cells recovered from donations by pregnant women without harm to their preborn babies seem to hold the same promise as adult stem cells & more promise than stem cells from embryos, who must be destroyed to extract their stem cells.
"Our hope is that these cells will provide a valuable resource for tissue repair & for engineered organs as well," related Dr. Anthony Atala, head of Wake Forest's regenerative medicine institute & the senior researcher on the project.
Although nothing official has been announced, some believe that the new Roman Catholic (RC) pope, Benedict XVI, is preparing to move the 2000 year old Christian church from the middle of the "of course evolution is true" camp to a more conservative "Intelligent Design" (ID) camp. Those who predict this change see a foretaste in this week's annual conference of RC experts on science meeting at the pope's summer place outside Rome.
According to the National Catholic Reporter magazine in the US, this meeting was "to give a broader extension to the debate" between materialistic or Darwinian evolution and Intelligent Design, which argues that some features of the universe & nature are so purposefully complex that they cannot be explained by mere materialistic chance over time, but infer an intelligent designer. (This designer may or may not be God, but is in some sense logically prior to & greater than the material universe in which we find ourselves.)
The report continued quoting anti-evolutionist & RC scientist Dominique Tassot, "Even if [the Pope] knows where he wants to go, & I believe he does, it will take time. Most Catholic intellectuals today are convinced that evolution is obviously true because most scientists say so."
This week's meeting, called the Schulerkreis, has been held annually since the 1970s. Those who attend consist mostly of his former doctoral students. A leader is Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, Austria, & one of the youngest members of the Catholic Church's College of Cardinals. It was Schonborn who announced this week that the topic would be evolution & creation. Others who will weigh in include the president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Peter Schuster; the conservative ethical philosopher Robert Spaemann; & Father Paul Erlbrich, professor of philosophy at Ludwig-Maximillians University of Munich.
During the Pope's inaugural sermon he said, "We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."
That article was criticized by Father George Coyne, who was the director of the Vatican Observatory in his address, the annual Aquinas Lecture on “Science Does Not Need God, or Does It? A Catholic Scientist Looks at Evolution” at Palm Beach Atlantic University, an interdenominational Christian university of about 3,100 students, in Florida on January 31, 2006. Coyne said that ID "belittles God's power & might," that "science & religion are totally separate pursuits," & that Schonborn "is in error" on at least "five fundamental issues."
Last week, August 19, Father Coyne was replaced without explanation, although the Vatican said Coyne, who has cancer, had asked to be replaced.
According to a report in the new issue of Nature, a weekly science journal, it is possible to harvest one cell from a small embryo & develop a new stem cell line for research & experimentation without harming the embryo's potential for developing into a normal human being. Advanced Cell Technology executive Dr. Robert Lanza said his company's breakthrough "will make it more difficult to oppose the research."
Opponents of research with embryonic stem cells cite its lack of proven benefit & the fact that until now, stem cell lines for reserach & development cannot be obtained without destroying the embryo. Embryos used for this purpose are typically 5 days after fertilization, when the embryo is approximately 100 cells. President Bush has vetoed all legislation that would allow for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research because of this ethical concern about the destruction of the embryo.
The new method works by taking an embryo at a very early stage of development & removing only one cell, which Advanced says does not harm the embryo.
"The science is interesting & important," remarked John Smith, a professor of bioethics at the University of Manchester in England.
A longtime critic of Advanced, Glenn McGee, director of the Alden March Bioethics Institute in Albany NY, warns the new process isn't likely to please anyone. He predicts that those without ethical concerns for embryonic stem cell research will complain that it is more difficult & less efficient than simply harvesting the cells & destroying the embryo, while those with ethical concerns about destroying embryos are not going to be easily convinced that the process does not harm the embryo in ways we don't know yet, & that at such an early stage, any one cell could potentially become a full human being as is the case in multiple births such as identical twins, triplets, etc.
Currently embryonic stem cell research is completely legal in the United States, but is not funded with federal money. To date a variety of effective treatments have come from adult & umbilical stem cell research, but none have come exclusively from embryonic stem cell research.
The American Psychological Association (APA) convention in New Orleans, LA, which began last Friday, is being picketed by an unusual group of protestors. It's not about the environment, animal rights, or free speech -- it's about internecine warfare among psychologists as to the feasibility -- or desirability -- of "converting" homosexual orientation to heterosexual. While the APA's official stance is that such "conversion" therapy is unproven, its proponents -- many of whom are psychologists with membership in APA -- say that its success stories are its proof of validity.
NARTH insists it is not mandating that homosexuals change their orientation, but affirming each individual's right to seek credible therapy that will help them achieve their own goals. The petition declares, "we petition the APA to support the individual's inalienable right to either claim a homosexual identity or to pursue change in sexual adaptation in accordance with the ethical principles of APA & consistent with an individual's expressed value system."
APA Public Affiars Manager Pamela Willenz dismissed NARTH's challenge: "For over three decades, the consensus of the mental health community has been that homosexuality is not an illness and therefore not in need of a cure."
Interestingly, Dr. Robert Spitzer, who led the effort in 1973 to remove homosexuality from the APA's list of psychological disorders, has changed his position on the basis of his own research into successful conversion therapies. He stated, "Like most psychiatrists, I thought that homosexual behavior could be resisted -- but that no one could really change their sexual orientation. I now believe that's untrue -- some people can and do change."
According to Francis S. Collins (56), leader of the international Human Genome Project, believing in God & believing in the science of evolution aren't incompatible. He should know -- he's dedicated his career to biological evolution, & 28 years ago he dedicated his life to Jesus Christ as his personal Lord & Savior.
Crediting his first softening toward belief in God to his reading of C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, Collins said last week, "In the very first chapter, all my arguments about the irrationality of faith lay in ruins." He had been raised by nonreligious parents & had turned into what he describes as "an obnoxious atheist" until, as a medical student, he began to wonder why patients who were suffering & dying retained faith in God. He realized that as a scientist "you're not supposed to decide something is true until you've looked at the data. And yet I had become an atheist without ever looking at the evidence whether God exists or not."
Continuing to be troubled by doubts, 28 years ago he took time out to go hiking in Oregon's Cascade mountain range where, finally, "I fell on my knees & asked Christ to be my Lord & Savior. And he has been here ever since, the past 28 years, as the rock on which I stand." Denominationally, he has been a Methodist, two kinds of Baptist, & is currently Presbyterian.
He is both embraced & criticized by both secular scientists & evangelical Christians. By secularists because he is an unabashed believer who says there is plenty of evidence for God's existence, & by evangelicals becaue he says the evidence for evolution is "overwhelming."
The book encourages secular scientists to investigate God with the same open-minded zeal they apply to the natural world, assuring them there's no incompatibility between belief & scientific rigor. It also warns evangelicals that opposition to evolution undermines the credibility of faith.
"It is time to call a truce in the escalating war between science & spirit," Collins pleads.
A life advocacy group, Care Not Killing (CNK), is pushing the British Medical Association (BMA) to renounce its "neutral" position regarding euthansia in favor of a specific directive supporting the preservation of life. According to CNK, most British doctors are opposed to euthanasia or doctor-assisted suicide, & the BMA's reluctance to take a stand with their majority is a reflection of BMA leadership being out of touch with actual medical practitioners.
CNK says that legislation recently introduced to Parliament would legalize euthansia & make it attractive as a way to lower the costs of the National Health Service (NHS). CNK director Peter Saunders said, "If the law was changed it would mean a lot of vulnerable people would feel under pressure to request early death because they feel themselves to be a financial & emotional burden."
The BMA is currently debating the issue. BMA (Lothian Division) member Dr. Lewis Morrison responded, "I look after very vulnerable, elderly people & any legislation that could potentially mean those patients might be influenced into a position of considering assisted dying worries me very deeply."
The US District Court trial in Dover, PA over whether "intelligent design" theories should be presented in science classes along with evolution has captured the interest of news organizaitons in print, electronic, & broadcast arenas, & Time magazine is devoting a searching on-line article to the controversy.
The article, Intelligent Design, describes the foundation for the trial, defines the Intelligent Design theory, & compares the current trial to the infamous Scopes trial of 80 years ago. Accompanying the article are links to 2 archived Time articles on Stealth Attack on Evolution from August 25 & The Evolution Wars from August 7, both this year.
Without specifically naming the medication itself as the culprit, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)has issued a public health advisory concerning mifepristone (trade name Mifeprex), also known as RU-486, the post-conception "abortion pill" (and its partner drug, misoprostol). Four women have died in the US & one in Canada after using the drug to terminate their early pregnancies. They died from blood-related infections after failing to follow completely all recommended treatment with the drug. The FDA has not yet decided if the drug from Danco Laboratories is associated with the deaths because of the quality of the medication itself or because of irregularities in its administration & use.
Danco medical director Richard Hausknecht said "no causal relationship" had been established between the deaths & the use of the drugs, but did indicate that the drug company has updated its safety information labeling.
Danco reported that more than 460,000 women have taken Mifeprex since it was approved by the FDA in September, 2000. The drug works through the administration of mifepristone and then 48 hours later by administration of misoprostol, causing a spontaneous abortion, killing the developing child and expelling the child & other uterine contents. It can be used to terminate pregnancies up to 2 months after conception.
The Lord's Servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will give them a change of heart leading to a knowledge of the truth
II Timothy 2:24-26