Vincent Lambert died on Thursday at 8.24am

Vincent Lambert, the brain-damaged French man who was in a state of impaired consciousness for 11 years while his family fought over his medical care, died on Thursday at 8.24am. After getting approval from a court, doctors stopped giving him food and water. It took him nine days to die.

Although his wife claimed that Lambert had said that he would not wish to live in such an impaired state, there were no written instructions with his end-of-life wishes.

French media have reported that his parents plan to sue his medical team. While euthanasia is illegal in France, doctors… MORE

Is euthanasia the only way out if you can’t afford your medication?

A Belgian man with a serious degenerative blood disease has told the media that he has applied for euthanasia because he cannot afford the expensive medication he needs to live a normal life.

Christophe (no surname was given) has four children, aged 4 to 10, but he separated from his partner two years ago. He is living alone and can no longer work. When his children visit on the weekends, his parents need to accompany them in case he falls or faints.

He suffers from a rare disorder, paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, which destroys red blood cells. Patients have a life… MORE

Global epidemic of doctor burnout must be confronted, says The Lancet

There is a world-wide epidemic of physician burnout, according to an editorial in The Lancet. “The need for health system reform in response to physician burnout cannot be delayed,” it contends.

In the United States, burnout affects 78% of physicians and in the United Kingdom 80%. It is a “crisis”, says The Lancet, “in many high-income countries because it not only affects physicians' personal lives and work satisfaction but also creates severe pressure on the whole health-care system—particularly threatening patients' care and safety.”

The problem may be particularly acute in China and in other low and middle-income countries, although… MORE

Three women, two babies, one IVF clinic running for cover

Anni and Ashot Manukyan

Now this is really complicated, so buckle up. It is an example of the emotional and legal turmoil that can happen when couples put themselves in the hands of IVF clinics.

Let’s start with the CHA Fertility Center. This is an international business with two clinics in Los Angeles and four in South Korea. Its services include egg freezing, LGBTQ fertility treatment, sex selection and surrogacy. California has become a magnet for international fertility treatment because its loose regulation permits sex selection and surrogacy. 

In 2011 Anni and Ashot Manukyan, a Los Angeles… MORE

Animal rights advances in India

Three of the great religions of India, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, all show a more overt respect for animal life than modern Western culture does. As early as 1500-600 BC the Isha-Upanishad stated (in the English rendering of recent judgements): “The universe along with its creatures belongs to the land. No creature is superior to any other. Human beings should not be above nature. Let no one species encroach over the rights and privileges of other species.”

In some circumstances, it can even become an inflammatory topic, especially with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in power. Human Rights… MORE

UK Parliament grills producers of reality TV series on cosmetic surgery

Britain’s Channel 4 specialises in reality TV. A controversial new series, scheduled to go to air in January, will deal with cosmetic surgery. In The Surjury, contestants will have to secure three-quarters of the votes of a 12-person jury to get their surgery. If they win, they will be invited back a few months later to "show off the results".

The new show is a good fit with some of its other series, like The Sex Clinic, Sex Tape, Would You Marry a Stranger?, Flirty Dancing, Naked Attraction and The Undateables. A Channel 4 press release promises exciting viewing: “While… MORE

Vincent Lambert to die

Vincent Lambert, the 42-year-old nurse who became a quadriplegic in a “vegetative state” in 2008, will soon die. France’s highest court ruled that his food and water should be removed.

The Cour de Cassation overruled an appeals court which had directed doctors to keep Mr Lambert alive pending a review of his situation by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.

Doctors plan to remove his hydration and nutrition, while keeping him as comfortable as possible while he dies of thirst and starvation.

His treating doctor, Vincent Sanchez, urged his family to make sure… MORE

Is ‘autonomy’ the central issue in the Vincent Lambert debate?

One of the central issues in the case of Vincent Lambert, the 42-year-old French nurse who became a quadriplegic living in a “vegetative state” in 2008, is whether or not he wants to die, or would want to die. As we report in this week’s newsletter, France’s highest court decreed last week that doctors may remove him from life support.

This provoked an interesting exchange on Oxford University’s Practical Ethics blog between Dominic Wilkinson, a neonatologist and bioethicist, and Charles Foster, a barrister and expert in medical law.

Wilkinson’s reaction to the long and complicated saga was this:


Progressing beyond sport’s non-inclusive gender binary

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard

Weightlifter Gavin Hubbard set a New Zealand junior record in the 105 kg + division in 1998. Around 2010 he transitioned to a female and became known as Laurel Hubbard. In 2017, now aged 39, she won a gold medal in the heaviest 90 kg+ category at the Australian International & Australian Open in Melbourne. An elbow injury kept her out of the Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Her competitors were not happy. “It’s a little bit unfair given that she began weightlifting as a man and has that experience in weightlifting as… MORE

Canadian fertility doctor deregistered over using own sperm

Dr Norman Barwin   

A leading Canadian fertility doctor has been formally deregistered for inseminating his patients with his own sperm or the sperm of unknown men. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario called the behaviour of Norman Barwin "beyond reprehensible".

The College found that he had acted in “a disgraceful, dishonorable or unprofessional” way and that he was “incompetent”.

Barwin is now 80 years old and has not practised medicine since 2014. He had specialised in infertility although he was not formally qualified in gynaecology. In Toronto he was regarded as the… MORE

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