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.

World’s Shortest Man Stops Traffic in New York City

Friday, September 19, 2008
Source: Associated Press

A short story – Smallest man is 2’5.37″ to launch 2009 Guinness’s World Book of Records

He Pingping from Inner Mongolia, the world's smallest man, sits on the lap of Svetlana Pankratova from Russia

He Pingping, the smallest man in the world

NEW YORK — It apparently takes a visit by the world’s shortest man to bring New York City to a halt.

Cab drivers, police officers and other busy New Yorkers paused in their hurried lives to look at tiny He Pingping as he walked along 42nd Street in Manhattan on Thursday.

The 20-year-old Chinese man is 2 feet 5.37 inches tall. He was in the city to launch the 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. He is listed as the shortest man on the planet.

His brother-in-law told the Daily News in Friday editions that coming to New York is “like a dream” for Pingping, who lives in Mongolia and was born with primordial dwarfism.

Crowds in Manhattan stopped to gawk wherever he went. His brother-in-law said Pingping likes the attention.

Strange ‘Ant From Mars’ Discovered in Amazon Rainforest

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
By Andrea Thompson

[Ants evolved more than 120 million years ago]

"Ant from Mars"—A newly discovered species of a blind, subterranean predator — dubbed the “Ant from Mars”  is likely a descendant of one of the very first ants to evolve on Earth, a new study finds.

Christian Rabeling, an evolutionary biology graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, found the only known specimen of the new ant species in dead plant material on the ground in the Amazon rainforest at the Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuaria in Manaus, Brazil, in 2003.

Rabeling and his colleagues named the ant Martialis heureka (“ant from Mars”) because they’d never seen an ant like it before.

• Click here to visit FOXNews.com’s Natural Science Center.

The ant is well-adapted for its underground home, with a long, pale body and no eyes. It also has long, slender forceps-like mandibles that researchers suspect the ant uses to capture prey.

M. heureka not only constitutes a new species, but a new genus and subfamily of ants as well. The new subfamily, one of 21 ant subfamilies, is the first new one to be named by scientists since 1967.

Rabeling says the discovery, detailed in the Sept. 15 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will help biologists better understand the biodiversity and evolution of ants.

For rest of article click [ HERE ]

Yoda the Cat Astounds With Four Ears

Tuesday, August 19, 2008
By Sara Bonisteel
Fox News

How many years, (oops I mean “ears”) does that add to a cat’s life? …..flagranny2

The real Yoda, and the cat named Yoda.     AP/Fame Pictures

The real Yoda, and the cat named Yoda. AP/Fame Pictures

They say cats have nine lives, but this one has four ears.

A genetic abnormality gave Yoda, of Downers Grove, Ill., four ear flaps instead of two.

Ted and Valerie Rock first spied the little guy in 2006 at neighborhood bar on the South Side of Chicago before a Bears game. He was the last of a litter of eight put up for adoption by the bar’s owner.

“The people in the bar, because it was coming up on Halloween, were thinking it was a devil cat or had evil powers or something,” Ted Rock told FOXNews.com. 

But the Rocks, who had lost their cat of 20 years just 6 months prior, saw something special in the gray kitten and decided to take him home.

Their “Star Wars”-loving son thought to name the cat after the tiny Jedi master.

“I had named him Barfly,” Rock said. “But we kind of liked Yoda better, and Barfly lasted only about a day.”

The abnormality can cause hearing impairments, though Rock said several veterinarians have given Yoda a clean bill of health.

“He is perfectly normal, hears well, energetic, cute little cat,” Rock said. “Very friendly, very social.”

The only thing these retirees worry about is a possible catnapping of their curious pet.

“We always let the cats go outdoors, but this one was so unusual we decided we didn’t want to do that,” Rock said. “So we had him chipped, and we keep him inside.”

There his four-eared force is used to entertain the grandkids.

“They come over and he comes running to play with them,” Rock said.

Chef Julia Child, others part of WWII spy network

Thursday, August 14, 2008

– Famed chef Julia Child shared a secret with Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and Chicago White Sox catcher Moe Berg at a time when the Nazis threatened the world.

Possibly more than secret recipes

Possibly more than secret recipes

WASHINGTON (AP) 

 

They served in an international spy ring managed by the Office of Strategic Services, an early version of the CIA created in World War II by President Franklin Roosevelt.

The full secret comes out Thursday, all of the names and previously classified files identifying nearly 24,000 spies who formed the first centralized intelligence effort by the United States. The National Archives, which this week released a list of the names found in the records, will make available for the first time all 750,000 pages identifying the vast spy network of military and civilian operatives.

They were soldiers, actors, historians, lawyers, athletes, professors, reporters. But for several years during World War II, they were known simply as the OSS. They studied military plans, created propaganda, infiltrated enemy ranks and stirred resistance among foreign troops.

Some of those on the list have been identified previously as having worked for the OSS, but their personnel records never have been available before. Those records would show why they were hired, jobs they were assigned to and perhaps even missions they pursued while working for the agency.

Among the more than 35,000 OSS personnel files are applications, commendations and handwritten notes identifying young recruits who……  [ CONTINUE ]

Bigfoot Trackers Say They’ve Got a Body

Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Fox News

         Believe it – Real or not 
Bigfoot may have been found. Maybe. We’ll see.

Two Northern California men and two Georgians say they’ve got a body, a photo and DNA evidence pertaining to the elusive forest-dwelling man-ape — and that they’ll reveal all at a press conference in Palo Alto, Calif., on Friday.

“I think you’ll find that this is the real deal,” Robert Barrows of Redwood City, Calif., told the Bay City News local wire service.

Matthew Whitton, a cop in Clayton County, Ga., and his friend Rick Dyer, a former corrections officer, say they recently found the body in the woods of northern Georgia.

Veteran Bigfoot tracker Tom Biscardi said he’s examined the body, and that scientists will get their chance soon.

• Click here to read the rest of this story at KTVU.com.

Girl’s Disease Turning Skin to Stone

Friday, August 01, 2008
Fox News

11 year old girl suffers from rare health condition that causes one’s skin to turn to stone…….
[This is a rare disease I have never heard of but certainly can image how hard it must be on her parents to watch and the digression of their daughter’s condition…. ]   

Young girl’s skin is turning to stone as she suffers from a rare, incurable disease called acute systemic scleroderma, Scotland’s Daily Record reported Thursday.

The autoimmune disorder means Hope Barrie’s body produces too much collagen, causing her skin to tighten and harden.

It is difficult for the 11-year-old from Tarbolton, Ayrshire, Scotland, to move around, and she has already had to give up one passion.

“I loved playing the violin and it would be amazing to start playing again,” Hope said.

Hope suffers from the systemic version of the disease, which starts out with poor circulation in the fingers and progresses to thickening of the skin, according to the International Scleroderma Network’s Web site. The disease may even spread to her organs.

As the disease progresses, the hardening of the skin makes it difficult to move fingers and toes, and open the mouth. It also can form scar tissue around the internal organs.

In America, the disease affects about 300,000 individuals [ which in my opinion is too many not be aware of ] many of whom are females between the ages of 30- to 50-years-old at the disease’s onset, according to the International Scleroderma Network.

Hope’s family told the newspaper they’re hoping that pioneering stem cell treatments being done in the U.S. may also help Hope, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy to fight the disease.

Although there is no cure for scleroderma, researchers at Virginia Mason Research Center and Duke University Medical Center are working with a stem cell procedure that has been shown to reverse the symptoms of the disease.

Emily Woods, of Plano, Texas, had the experimental procedure in 2006, according to a New York Times article. Within six months, the 87-pound mother — who had been close to death — was back on her feet and enjoying her daughter, the article said.

The transplant process involves doctors removing the stem cells from a patient’s own blood cells and returning them to the body, where it is hoped they will regenerate.

Click here to read the full story from the Daily Record

[ I know I came across “Gastroparesis” when a good friend of mine called and told me she had been diagnosed with this condition and I was just recently diagnosed with a condition called “hyperparathyroidism”.  It just makes you wonder how many diseases there are that we don’t know about.  I’m thinking of starting a blog on rare conditions that need public awareness.  If anyone would like to help me work on this project just let me know……flagranny2 ]