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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 2 January 2004

2 January 2004

2 January 2004 Britain's Liberal Democrat party wants dead people's consent to the removal of their organs for transplant to be assumed. Dr Evan Harris, the party's health spokesman, has asked the government to allow a free parliamentary vote on a bill which would abolish the need for people to give advance consent to such transplantation. He is said to have the support of the British Medical Association and the National Kidney Federation. At present one must express one's consent. [Scotsman, 1 January ] Although the transplantation of organs from the dead can be ethical, safeguards are necessary to ensure that consent has been given and that death has been firmly ascertained. Prenatal care is the key to stopping mothers from passing on HIV to their unborn children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA. Research at a Georgia hospital found that, if women received complete prenatal care, HIV testing and AIDS drugs, HIV was never transmitted to their children. It has been suggested that newborn children might usefully be given anti-AIDS drugs too. [Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Reuters, 31 December ] A woman who is said to have refused an abortion on religious grounds gave birth to a child who she was told could not survive the pregnancy. Mrs Stephanie Kirkland of Rugby, England, gave birth to a son nine weeks prematurely in the summer and a local newspaper has recently reported that he was healthy. Amniotic fluid was lost during the pregnancy and six senior doctors at three hospitals predicted the child's death. [Rugby Advertiser, 2 January ] Bacteria which can make newborn babies very ill have been found at industrial plant producing infant formula milk. The Nestlé company funded research by Wageningen university, the Netherlands, which discovered traces of enterobacter sakazakii at four unidentified factories. Health Canada is quoted as pointing out that powdered formula milk was not heat-treated before being administered in hospital. It appears desirable that formula should only be prepared shortly before it is given to a child. [The Lancet on BBC, 2 January ]

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