Amazing face transplant gives firefighter new mug


In 2001, the roof of a flaming building fell on volunteer firefighter Patrick Hardison, burning his firefighting mask onto his head. As a result, Hardison, now 41, has spent more than a decade without a face. Now, Hardison has the face of David Rodebaugh, a 26-year-old who died in a bicycling accident and donated much of his body for transplant. Surgeon Eduardo Rodriguez and a team at the New York University Langone Medical Center performed the facial transplant, "the most extensive" in history according to the hospital.

Hardison also received a new scalp, ears, ear canals, chin and cheek bones, and Rodebaugh's nose. Previously unable to close his eyes totally, he now has eyelids and also muscles for blinking.

New York University paid for the transplant, totaling $850,000 to one million dollars.

"Biography of a Face" (New York Magazine via CNN) Read the rest

The scientist who transplanted monkey heads


You've likely read about Italian physician Dr. Sergio Canavero's plan to perform the first human head transplant? There is precedent with non-humans and it ain't pretty. In 1965, Dr. Robert J. White and his colleagues at Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital transplanted the brain of one dog to another. "The transplant … acted as a second brain in the animal’s neck," according to Science News Letter. In the 1970s, White continued his experiments by transplanting rhesus monkeys' head onto other monkeys' bodies. (See the diagram above.)

Below, a special edition of The Midnight Archive profiles White, discusses similar research in Russia at the time, and touches on the ethical questions around these experiments. (Warning: this video is rather graphic.)

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The first drawings of neurons

In 1837, Italian physician Camilo Golgi devised a reaction to stain the wispy dendrites and axons of neurons, making it possible to see brain cells in situ. In 1875, he published his first scientific drawing made possibly by his chemical reaction, seen here. It's an illustration of the never fibers, gray matter, and other components of a dog's olfactory bulb. "The First Neuron Drawings, 1870s" (The Scientist) Read the rest

Jesus spotted in a brain scan, but the patient's doctor doesn't see it


A scan of a stroke victim's brain following emergency surgery reveals what her husband claims is a sign of divine intervention. A “figure” in the MRI looked to them both like an apparition of Jesus Christ. Read the rest

Sex probably won't give you a heart attack

"Based on our data, it seems very unlikely that sexual activity is a relevant trigger of heart attack," said Ulm University medical researcher Dr. Dietrich Rothenbache about a new study. From UPI:
In relation to their heart attacks, only 0.7 percent of participants they'd had sex within an hour before their heart attack and more than 78 percent of participants said they hadn't had sex in at least 24 hours before having the heart attack. Based on this, and a total of 100 adverse cardiovascular events among the participants in 10 years of following up with them, researchers said sexual activity does not appear to be a risk factor for heart attack.

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Native American Church members fight harassment by authorities


“Peyote Drummer,” photogravure, Edward Sheriff Curtis, 1927.

Editor's note: The Oklevueha Native American Church, or ONAC, is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the legal freedom to observe Native American spiritual traditions. Some of these involve sacramental or medicinal use of various plants: Peyote, Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Cannabis, Mushrooms and others. I am an ONAC member. While law varies state by state, those who grow or use these plants--Native Americans, or otherwise--risk arrest, property confiscation, legal harassment, and police abuse. One of ONAC's members in California was recently arrested, and his property confiscated, shortly after local law enforcement were notified they have no right to do these things. ONAC is holding a press conference today to announce their response. —Xeni Jardin

There will be a press conference today, 2 PM at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel in Santa Rosa California, at 170 Railroad Street.

Noted Constitutional and Civil Rights Lawyer Matt Pappas will be announcing lawsuits and other legal actions against a number of Law Enforcement and County officials and entities.

These legal actions have become necessary because of repeated abuses of power and evidence of collusion by these groups to deprive members of the Native American Church of their Native Ceremonies and Sacraments by raiding their sacred grounds, confiscating their objects of worship and destroying the sacraments and medicines.

All of these items are protected under the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. These protections have repeatedly been upheld by numerous court cases around the country including the US Supreme Court, US District Courts and State Supreme Courts. Read the rest

Texas doctor's consent form for women seeking abortions

Redditor Mystharia terminated a pregnancy for medical reasons last week; her doctor gave her this consent form, mandated by -- and scathingly attacking -- the Texas legislature, which requires the doctor to enumerate an eye-wateringly detailed account of the foetal development before termination. (Icon: Kevin Dooley/CC-BY) Read the rest

Scientists: Music makes surgery patients feel better

For more than a century, physicians have used music to make patients feel better before, during, and after surgery. A new scientific meta-study looks at the evidence and confirms that yes, listening to music has measurable pain-killing properties and reduces anxiety around surgery. Read the rest

Transgenic mouse company pays academics who cite them in papers

Cyagen also makes stem cells and other bio-research materials: they'll pay academics $100 in vouchers per citation, multiplied by the impact factor of the journal in which the paper is published. Read the rest

Physiology of "Bone Breaking" street dancing

My friends at Youth Radio interviewed a sports medicine physician, who used to dance with Cirque du Soleil, about the anatomy of "bone breaking," the incredible form of turf dancing where the performers rhythmically contort, pop, and flex their bodies in crazy ways.

Below, Youth Radio's earlier video about turf dancing.

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Video of man singing opera while undergoing brain surgery


Professional singer Ambroz Bajec-Lapajne sang opera during neurosurgery for a brain tumor, at his physicians' request so they could monitor his singing ability and "avoid deficits after the procedure," he writes. Read the rest

Scientists growing new arms for monkeys


Bioengineers are developing methods to grow new arms for monkeys using human progenitor cells that can become blood cells, vessels, and other tissue. Read the rest

Dog hates ear medicine


Denver feels about ear medicine the way I feel about eye-drops.

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Non-metal robot performs prostate surgery inside MRI


Researchers are developing a robot made from plastic and ceramic motors that can perform surgery on a patient inside a magnetic resonance imaging machine where metal is a no-no. Read the rest

Researchers developing tiny robots to travel through body and fire projectiles


Researchers demonstrated an early proof-of-concept system in which tiny robots inside your body, controlled by an MRI machine, could self-assemble into a Gauss gun and fire projectiles to clear blockages or deliver drugs. Video below. Read the rest

Unconscious patient recorded medical team insulting the hell out of him

A man who was anesthetized for a colonoscopy in Reston, Virginia was surprised to hear a recording on his smartphone of the anesthesiologist and others on the medical team acting like total assholes and mocking him while he was unconscious. According to the Washington Post, he had hit record before going under "to capture the instructions his doctor would give him after the procedure." In the resulting lawsuit, the jury awarded the fellow $100,000 for defamation, $200,000 for medical malpractice, and $200,000 in punitive damages. From the Washington Post:

“After five minutes of talking to you in pre-op,” the anesthesiologist (Tiffany M. Ingham, 42) told the sedated patient, “I wanted to punch you in the face and man you up a little bit,” she was recorded saying.

When a medical assistant noted the man had a rash (on his penis, which he previously mentioned to the Ingham), the anesthesiologist warned her not to touch it, saying she might get “some syphilis on your arm or something,” then added, “It’s probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you’ll be all right.”

When the assistant noted that the man reported getting queasy when watching a needle placed in his arm, the anesthesiologist remarked on the recording, “Well, why are you looking then, retard?”

...The discussion soon turned to the rash on the man’s penis, followed by the comments implying that the man had syphilis or tuberculosis. The doctors then discussed “misleading and avoiding” the man after he awoke, and Shah reportedly told an assistant to convince the man that he had spoken with Shah and “you just don’t remember it.” Ingham suggested Shah receive an urgent “fake page” and said, “I’ve done the fake page before,” the complaint states.

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Incredible tiny tentacles for microrobots


This is microrobotic tentacle grabbing an ant. Iowa State University engineers developed the spiraling microrobotic pneumatic tentacles, just 8 millimeters long and less than a hundredth of an inch wide, as a delicate gripper for tiny medical robots that could manipulate tissue or even blood vessels inside our bodies. Read the rest

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