13-year-olds given mastectomies at California clinic

How old does one have to be to consent to a mastectomy? Only 13, it appears. An article in JAMA Pediatrics on “Chest Dysphoria in Transmasculine Minors and Young Adults” at a US clinic was based on a survey which included 2 girls (transmale) who were 13 years old and had both breasts removed and 5 who were only 14.

According to the authors, who are based at the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, “All postsurgical participants (68 of 68; 100%) affirmed the statement, ‘It was a good decision to undergo chest reconstruction.’”


British grandparents use dead son’s sperm to create child

Another fascinating chapter in the unfolding history of the Reproductive Revolution, this time about posthumous sperm extraction.

A few years ago an unnamed 26-year-old unmarried man was killed in a motorcycle accident in the UK and his body was not discovered for two days. His wealthy parents, who are in their 50s, immediately set to work. He had been their only son and they desperately wanted a male heir.

They engaged a urologist to extract sperm from their son’s corpse. This was frozen and a year later couriered to the California IVF clinic of Dr Jeffrey Smotrich. The man’s parents… MORE

Amend law to allow organ donor euthanasia, say Canadian doctors

Canadian legislation and medical protocols need to be tweaked to allow euthanasia with organ donation, according to an opinion piece in the New England Journal of Medicine. Two doctors from Western University, in Ontario, and Robert Truog, a Harvard Medical School bioethicist, outline the changes that will be needed to ensure that patients can give as many healthy organs as possible.

Euthanasia offers significant advantages for transplant surgeons. The normal protocol is to wait for a couple of minutes after blood circulation ceases (donation after cardiac death). But even in that brief space of time the quality of the… MORE

Most Quebec doctors in survey favour euthanasia for demented patients

Most Quebec doctors are in favour of euthanasia for incompetent patients with dementia in a terminal stage, according to a survey conducted by researchers at Université de Sherbrooke and institutions in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Current legislation requires that patients be competent and request euthanasia, but there is a movement to allow it for incompetent patients as well.

The results, which were published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, were based on responses from 136 French-speaking physicians in Quebec involved in end-of-life decisions.

Physicians favoured continuous deep sedation over euthanasia for relieving suffering if patients were in an… MORE

One drug manufacturer’s moral universe

It’s important to establish an ethical framework before launching into debates on specific issues. And although he is being reviled on Twitter, at least Nirmal Mulye, the CEO of Nostrum Laboratories, a small pharmaceutical manufacturer based in Missouri, has a firm and clear ethical framework: to maximise profit.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he defended his decision to raise the price of an antibiotic for urinary tract infections from US$474.75 to $2,392, a 400% hike. “I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can  . . . to sell the product for the highest… MORE

Charlie Gard amendment introduced into British parliament

An amendment to the UK’s Mental Capacity (Amendment) bill has been introduced in British Parliament, with veteran politician Lord James Mackay seeking to prevent the escalation of treatment disputes to the courts.

Lord Mackay’s proposed amendment, introduced on September 4, would compel hospitals to offer “medical mediation” to families to resolve disputes before resorting to the courts. It would also force the Government to provide access to clinical ethics committees to advise doctors and families on life and death decisions.

The amendment pertains to a bill currently under debate in UK parliament… MORE

“Baby factories” in the Ukraine exposed

Damning reports have emerged of systemic exploitation in Ukrainian surrogacy businesses, with one expert labelling some of the worst clinics “baby factories”.  

An Al Jazeera feature article published this week details the harrowing story of several surrogates and clients of the Ukraine’s largest surrogacy company, BioTexCom.

The company, which employs thousands of surrogates and accounts for over half of the surrogate births in the country each year, has been accused of grossly mistreating women and providing surrogates with substandard medical care.

According to Al Jazeera, the BioTexCom offers women… MORE

Alcor sued for freezing man’s head but not his body

A man is suing the US cryonics firm Alcor after his deceased father was cremated and only his head preserved, despite a contract specifying whole body preservation.

Kurt Pilgeram’s father Dr. Laurence Pilgeram, a scientist, had taken out a contract with Alcor in the early 1990s, requesting that his body be preserved upon death. Preservation costs upwards of US$80,000, and “members” must also pay a yearly fee.

Dr. Pigeram died in 2015 at 90 years of age after collapsing on the sidewalk outside his home in Goleta, California. His body was taken to… MORE

When is it ethical to dig up the dead?

The bodies of the dead can be exhumed for a variety of reasons, such as criminal fact-finding, archeological exploration, and forensic research. Yet when is it ethical permissible to dig up the dead?

There has been much discussion of the topic in archeological circles in recent years. Archeologist Duncan Sayer, from Central Lancashire University in the UK, has published a book on the ethics of burial excavations. According to Sayer, the permissibility of exhuming a body depends on numerous factors. “It’s not okay to excavate human remains simply because we’re archaeologists and that’s what we… MORE

Is the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine worth it?

In 2004 California voted 59% to 41% for Proposition 71, an amendment to the state constitution which would create the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine through a US$3 billion bond issue. Interest added another $3 billion to the bill. Now the CIRM’s funding has nearly run out and its supporters plan to ask voters to authorise another $5 billion in funding in 2020.

The San Francisco Chronicle has reviewed the record of the CIRM’s research in a special feature. Without committing itself, the newspaper suggests that renewing the CIRM’s contract with voters might not be a good investment.

First… MORE

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