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NRL News
Page 16
January 2010
Volume 37
Issue 1

Pro-Life News in Brief

By Liz Townsend

Adult Stem Cell Treat Blindness

Stem cells from healthy eyes, obtained without harming the donor, have successfully treated blindness in eight British patients. The patients, suffering from Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency (LSCD), regained almost all of their sight after the treatment, according to a study published in the journal Stem Cells.

LSCD is often caused by chemical burns to the eyes and affects about eight million people worldwide, according to NewsRx.com. Russell Turnbull, 38, was one of the patients in the study conducted at NorthEast England Stem Cell Institute in Newcastle.

Injured in 1994 when ammonia was squirted into his right eye as he was trying to break up a fight, Turnbull has since been partially blind and in severe pain, according to The Guardian. Doctors harvested stem cells from his healthy eye and grew them on a scaffolding made by tissue from amniotic sacs, donated by mothers after Caesarean sections.

Two months after the newly grown stem cells were transplanted onto his damaged eye, they began healing Turnbull’s cornea, The Guardian reported. Just six months after surgery, Turnbull’s vision had returned to its pre-attack level.

The pain and discomfort were better almost immediately and I started to get my sight back a month or so later,” he told The Guardian. “I used to be able to see only the largest letter at the top of the eye chart, but now I can pick out letters on the bottom row.”

The team plans to continue its research with a larger study involving 24 patients. “This study demonstrates that transplantation of cultured corneal stem cells without the use of animal cells or products is a safe and effective method of reconstructing the corneal surface and restoring useful sight in patients with unilateral LSCD,” said Professor Majlinda Lako, co-leader of the research team, according to The Express.

This research shows promise to help hundreds of people regain their sight. These exciting results offer a new treatment and hope for people with LSCD.”

Unborn Baby Killed by Father in Forced Abortion

Colorado police arrested a man January 5 for allegedly giving his ex-girlfriend an abortifacient to kill their unborn baby. The 16-week-old unborn baby died in January 2009 in a stillbirth, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

Charged with “unlawful ter-mination of a pregnancy,” Jared Merril Ahlstrom, 31, is now free on bond. Police alleged that he repeatedly asked his girlfriend to abort their baby, but she refused, the Daily Sentinel reported.

Ahlstrom and the woman, who was not identified by police, broke up after she decided to keep the baby. They began to see each other again when she was nine and a half weeks pregnant, according to the newspaper. When they were on a hiking trip together the woman began to feel pain and thought she had miscarried the baby. After seeing a doctor, she discovered that her baby was still alive.

A few weeks later, the woman again agreed to go hiking with Ahlstrom. Once again, she experienced pain and bleeding. She saw her doctor immediately, but this time the baby did not survive. The woman’s doctor called the stillbirth “very unusual,” the Daily Sentinel reported.

Ahlstrom insisted that the baby be cremated, police alleged. Several months later, Ahlstrom began calling the woman repeatedly and told her he was suicidal, according to the Daily Sentinel. While he was a patient in a mental health facility he called her and reportedly confessed that he had given her misoprostol, a prostaglandin used in the RU486 abortion technique.

Ahlstrom sent the woman e-mails that described how he obtained the drug in Mexico and put it into her food before the hiking trips, the newspaper reported. She forwarded the e-mails to investigators, which led to his arrest.

California Abortionist’s License Restricted after Woman’s Death

An abortionist on probation after previous patient deaths cannot perform surgeries (including abortions) or deliveries, according to a January 7 ruling by an administrative law judge, but still retains his medical license. The Medical Board of California had asked Judge James Ahler to suspend Rutland’s license. Ahler decided to limit his practice until a hearing before the full medical board, according to the Register.

Andrew Rutland injected 30-year-old Ying Chen with lidocaine before a second-trimester abortion in a San Gabriel clinic, the Los Angeles Times reported. Reacting to the drug, Chen quickly went into “profound respiratory distress, which was followed by complete respiratory and cardiac arrest,” the Orange County Register reported.

Rutland performed CPR, but did not give Chen oxygen, according to the Register. After a “significant delay” before 911 was called, Chen was eventually taken to a hospital and died six days later, the Register reported.

The latest charges against Rutland come in the wake of a 2002 license revocation that was lifted in 2007. Baby Jillian Broussard had died in 1999 after Rutland tore her spinal cord while delivering her using forceps, the Register reported. Rutland admitted negligence in this case, while the medical board also charged him with several other violations, including the death of another baby, according to the newspaper.

Although still on probation at the time of Chen’s death, Rutland can continue to practice medicine. Baby Jillian’s parents said January 7 that Rutland should have had his license lifted again. “I think his victims and the public needed to get full peace of mind today, and they didn’t,” Kathy Broussard said. “He still has a practice in Anaheim. He’s still allowed to do gynecological exams and consultations. It’s appalling.”