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This woman is pictured holding her own heart after successful transplant. 

Worldwide, about 3,500 heart transplants were performed annually, but about 800,000 people have a Class IV heart defect indicating a new organ. These numbers show the lack of donors impressively.

The most common procedure is to take a working heart from a recently deceased organ donor (cadaveric allograft) and implant it into the patient. The patient’s own heart is either removed (orthotopic procedure) or, less commonly, left in place to support the donor heart (heterotopic procedure).

Post-operation survival periods averaged 15 years. Heart transplantation is not considered to be a cure for heart disease, but a life-saving treatment intended to improve the quality of life for recipients.

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This incredible medical breakthrough could allow trans women to carry children
Trans women who want to carry children may very soon be able to, thanks to a groundbreaking Ohio clinic. Uterus transplants have been successfully conducted in Sweden, but the Cleveland Clinic has been working on carrying out the procedure for the first time in the United States, according to the New York Times — allowing women "who were born without a uterus, had it removed, or have uterine damage" to be able to carry children. Women will be able to have a uterus transplanted, then removed after one or two babies are delivered so the subject doesn't have to keep taking anti-rejection medication. This could be absolutely revolutionary for women who are unable to have children on due to uterine factor infertility. "I crave that experience," a 26-year-old woman in the Cleveland Clinic's screening process told New York Times. The woman was born with ovaries but without a uterus. "I want the morning sickness, the backaches, the feet swelling. I want to feel ...

Ontario man’s sight restored with help of stem cells

When Taylor Binns slowly began going blind because of complications with his contact lenses, he started to prepare for living the rest of his life without vision. But an innovative treatment using stem cells has changed all that, and returned to him the gift of sight.

Four years ago, while on a humanitarian work mission to Haiti, Binns developed intense eye pain and increasingly blurry vision. Doctors at home couldn’t figure out what was wrong and, over the next two years, Binns slowly went legally blind, no longer able to drive or read from his textbooks at Queens University, where he was studying commerce.

“Everything you could do before was being taken away, day by day, and it got worse and worse,” he recalls.

Doctors finally diagnosed him with a rare eye disease called corneal limbal stem cell deficiency, which was causing the normal cells on Binns’ corneas to be replaced with scar tissue, leading to painful eye ulcers that clouded over his corneas.

A variety of things can cause the condition, including chemical and thermal burns to the corneas, which are the glass “domes” over the coloured part of our eyes. But it’s also thought that microbial infections and wearing daily wear contact lenses for too long without properly disinfecting them can lead to the disease, too.

Since a corneal transplant was not an option for Binns, his doctors at Toronto Western Hospital proposed something new: a limbal stem cell transplant.

The limbus is the border area between the cornea and the whites of the eye where the eye normally creates new epithelial cells. Since Binns’ limbus was damaged, doctors hoped that giving him healthy limbal cells from a donor would cause healthy new cells to grow over the surface.

While the treatment is available in certain centres around the U.S., Binns became the first patient to try the treatment at a new program at Toronto Western Hospital.

“Within a month he could see 20/40,” says ophthalmologist Dr. Allan Slomovic. “His last visit he was 20/20 and 20/40.” Slomovic says “it’s extremely exciting” that the procedure was a success, “especially when you realize there is really nothing else that would have worked for him.”

Binns is now living pain-free, returning to doing everything he used to before his three-year sight loss. “Being able to see my computer, being able to go for a walk or a drive – I am so happy for that,” he says.

The Toronto team hopes to do many more of these procedures in the future, says Dr. Sherif El Defrawy from the Canadian Ophthalmological Society and University of Toronto’s ophthalmology department.

“We are already seeing this in a number of centres across the country and you will see it more and more as we understand how to improve the success rate,” he says.

For Binns, the experience has been life-changing in one more important way: He has now decided to switch his studies from commerce to medicine, and hopes to go to school to become an ophthalmologist.

Experiments With Zebrafish Reveal Chemicals That Could Improve Bone Marrow Transplants

Using large-scale zebrafish drug-screening models, researchers at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital have identified a potent group of chemicals that helps bone marrow transplants engraft or “take.”

The findings, published July 23 in Nature, could lead to human trials in patients with cancer and blood disorders within a year or two, said senior investigator Leonard Zon, professor of stem cell and regenerative biology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.


Supporters of the study include the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health (1R01HL04880, Z01 ES025034, P50-NS40828, P30-HD18655, ROCA148633-01A5), the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Care-for-Rare Foundation.