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Looking for Good Samaritans

University of Alberta researcher James Shapiro recently collaborated with a team of Japanese physicians to transplant islet (insulin-producing) cells from a mother to her daughter. This successful procedure allowed the younger woman to go without daily insulin injections.

Cases such as this one underscore the benefits of live donor transplants. Although organ transplants have become a routine surgical procedure, there continues to be a gap between the number of people needing transplants and the number of available organs. Living donors could help close this gap. According to the British Columbia Transplant Society (BCTS), live organ donations are now accepted for kidney, liver, and islet cell transplantation.

Whether they are known or unknown to the recipient, organ donors must be medically and
psychologically healthy. They must be aware of potential health risks and must not feel pressured into taking part in the procedure.

After an in-depth study of live anonymous donors, The BCTS concluded that "there are altruistically motivated potential donors out there." The BCTS believes that recruiting such good Samaritans will help those in need of transplant surgery.

Josie Padro

Cancer Down There

September is ovarian cancer awareness month. This disease occurs most frequently in women age 40 to 80 and affects nearly 2,500 Canadian women each year, reports Ovarian Cancer Canada ovariancancercanada.ca. It is the main cause of death from gynaecological cancers in Canadian women.

A definitive screening test for ovarian cancer is still in development, and until researchers come up with one, a woman's strongest defence against this illness is body awareness. Paying attention to what is normal in the body can help women distinguish between occasional discomfort and the following persistent, unusual symptoms of ovarian cancer:

  • abdominal or pelvic discomfort
  • fatigue or difficulty breathing
  • vaginal bleeding
  • pain during intercourse
  • changes in bladder or bowel habits

If you notice any of these changes, always report them to your health care professional.
One day it may be possible to diagnose ovarian cancer by measuring CA-125, a protein normally found in blood. The CA-125 test is currently used to measure treatment response and to monitor recurrences in women with ovarian cancer. But because 20 percent of ovarian cancer patients do not show elevated CA-125 levels, measuring this protein is not as reliable as a pelvic exam and ultrasound when diagnosing ovarian cancer. 

Rita Bayer

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