How a $2 toy ball saved a little girl’s life

By Kate Sikora
September 24, 2008 12:00am
SOURCE: The Daily Telegraph – AU 

The next time you play table tennis you may look at ping-pong balls differently…flagranny2

IT costs as little as $2 and until now has been considered little more than a toy, but a simple ping-pong ball is keeping liver transplant patient Mackenzie Argaet alive.

In a world first, a Sydney surgeon has used the radical method in a transplant operation, which has won him international accolades.

Dr Albert Shun, from The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, used the unorthodox approach when confronted with a medical problem while operating on the two-year-old.

Born with biliary artresia, Mackenzie, from Canberra, needed the life-saving operation earlier this year.

But after inserting a portion of the adult-size liver in the little girl, Dr Shun discovered it was too big and was placing pressure on her blood vessels which could have been fatal.

Having heard about the use of ping-pong balls in operations overseas, he decided to test their suitability in transplant surgery.

“I rang my wife and asked her to go to Big W and buy me some ping-pong balls,” he said.

“I was using a sponge as a back-up purpose but there was no way I could close her up the way it was.

“She is the first (transplant patient) in the world that the ping-pongs have been used for these purposes.”

In Mackenzie’s case, the ball keeps the liver off the arteries. Since Mackenzie’s operation, Dr Shun and his team have performed the procedure several times.

However, the ball has only remained in the patients for a few days to allow the swelling to reduce after the transplant.

Dr Shun said Mackenzie’s liver would grow around the ball without causing an infection.

“There shouldn’t be any complications. We are in a unique situation in Australia because we have a low donor rate so we have to be adaptable,” he said.

Unaware she has a foreign object inside her body, little Mackenzie is now running around like every toddler her age.

Her parents Letice Darswell and Guy Argaet are thrilled their daughter is well after she was so seriously ill from birth.

“We didn’t get told about the ping-pong until after the operation,” Ms Darswell said.

“It was a shock when (Dr Shun) came out of surgery.”

Biliary artresia is a rare gastro-intestinal disorder in newborns where the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the intestine are destroyed. Mackenzie’s liver became so scarred that she began to develop cirrhosis and needed a transplant.

“She is so normal now. She is a happy kid,” Ms Darswell said.

F.D.A. Says Food From Cloned Animals Is Safe

To clone or not to clone, that is the question.  It takes on a whole new meaning to Wendy’s  “Where’s the beef”
The calf Priscilla was cloned by ViaGen from a slab of beef.
Published: January 16, 2008

After years of debate, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday declared that food from cloned animals and their progeny is safe to eat, clearing the way for milk and meat derived from genetic copies of prized dairy cows, steers and hogs to be sold at the grocery store. 

The decision was hailed by cloning companies and some farmers, who have been pushing for government approval in hopes of turning cloning into a routine agricultural tool. Because clones are costly, it is their offspring that are most likely to be used for producing milk, hamburgers or pork chops, while the clones themselves are reserved for breeding.

“This is a huge milestone,” said Mark Walton, president of ViaGen, a leading livestock cloning company in Austin, Tex.

Farmers had long observed a voluntary moratorium on the sale of clones and their offspring into the food supply. The F.D.A. on Tuesday effectively lifted that for clone offspring. But another government agency, the Agriculture Department, asked farmers to continue withholding clones themselves from the food supply, saying the department wanted time to allay concerns among retailers and overseas trading partners.

“We are very cognizant we have a global environment as it pertains to movement of agricultural products,” said Bruce I. Knight, under secretary of agriculture for marketing and regulatory programs. He said it was his goal to have the transition last months, not years.

Animal breeding takes time, so even with Tuesday’s actions, it is likely to be several years before products from the offspring of clones are at the grocery store in appreciable quantity.

Further down in the article Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut expressed this proposal:

However, Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, has introduced legislation to require labels on cloned products, and consumer groups suggested that labeling would be a battleground in the near future.

[For the complete article – continue here] [Share Your Thoughts]

I would be interested in your comments as well.

From this article it is obvious that the food industry isn’t ready to immediately jump in the water without concerns but do feel comfortable that we will see cloning in the not to far future as the alternative way of producing and supplying dairy and meat products. I personally don’t think this is something I could commit to especially and hopefully will require all that is cloned to be labeled as such as given a choice I personally would not choose the cloned product…..flagranny2