‘Egg whisk’ pioneered by doctor helps pump blood during heart surgery
A miniature “egg whisk” that rotates faster than a high-speed food blender has been pioneered by a British doctor to help the heart to pump blood round the body during life-saving surgery. The ground-breaking procedure, which involves passing the fold-up whisk through the body to a site next to the heart, allows patients with weak hearts to have an artery unblocked without the risk of kidney failure or cardiac arrest.
More than 100,000 patients undergo artery-clearing angioplasty annually, but many remain at high risk of serious complications because of their problems pumping blood. But now Professor Martin Rothman, a cardiologist based at the London Chest Hospital, has completed the first human trials of the revolutionary whisk, which is inserted via a catheter through the groin shortly before the angioplasty takes place.
The procedure, which has not yet been licensed, has proved so successful in patients to date that it was broadcast live yesterday to a key conference in San Francisco attended by 10,000 cardiologists. The whisk, called the Reitan catheter pump, is inserted in a tube via the femoral artery and manoeuvred up to the aorta, where it folds out to form a plastic cage encasing two stainless steel propeller blades of about 8mm in length.
Once switched on — a wire running down the catheter allows it to be powered electrically — the device rotates at up to 12,000rpm, enhancing the pumping action of the heart by drawing blood down from the aorta to the arteries. This keeps vital organs, such as the kidneys, working as the patient undergoes angioplasty.
Professor Rothman told The Times that the device effectively “unloaded the heart”, reducing the risk of heart attack, kidney failure and cardiogenic shock — when reduced blood flow causes multi-organ malfunction. Once the angioplasty is completed, the Reitan catheter pump can be removed.
Professor Rothman said that with up to one in ten patients who need angioplasty being at risk of cardiac and renal failure, the device would bring benefits for thousands of patients every year and even appeared to improve severe kidney problems. He added: “This technology offers real opportunity for sick patients to undergo a very important procedure — patients who, were you to blow a balloon up in their arteries, would otherwise likely be pushed over the edge. “The pump is incredibly powerful — if you stuck it in a bucket of water it looks like the whole thing is boiling. It helps people with heart failure survive this procedure better and with less risk.”
Professor Rothman carried out the first trial after discovering the device, designed by Øyvind Reitan, a Swedish cardiologist and engineer, a few years ago. To date, the British doctor, who works in Barts and the London NHS Trust, has carried out 17 procedures, with published data on the first ten. While a pump would cost about £1,000, and can be used for only one procedure, the savings of preventing a patient from ending up on kidney dialysis are substantial. Three days on dialysis would cost about £10,000.
For the surgery last night, Professor Rothman operated on a woman, 79, who had blockages in her right coronary artery and proximal left anterior descending artery. As a diabetic with high blood pressure and raised cholesterol, the woman had been refused angioplasty by other cardiologists. She is now back on the ward.
Describing the notion that it might reverse kidney failure as a “Star Trek moment”, Professor Rothman said that his team were examining evidence collated so far. One case involved a woman who was only able to pass 10ml or urine per hour in the two weeks before the operation because of poor kidney function, who passed ten times the amount with the device in place.
“It was a revelation to see that patients who had a chronic or long-term impairment of the kidney could actually have that state reversed using the pump,” he said. “That was amazing. We saw the data and it made a lot of us think again. You think most people who have chronic kidney failure have exactly that. You don’t expect them to impove their function and that’s what we have seen.”
Ellen Mason, a cardiac nurse with the British Heart Foundation, described the work as pioneering. She said: “It is great to see a British cardiologist leading the way in the field of international cardiology. “The application would be in people with cardiogenic shock which is usually fatal, or severe heart failure probably due to a heart attack. The hope is that they would be able to undergo urgent treatment for heart attack, when before it would have been too risky. “The data from these trials will determine whether this will become more widespread in the UK and the rest of the world.”
A representative for Barts and The London NHS Trust, which includes the London Chest Hospital, said that it fully supported Professor Rothman’s work. “The trust is committed to providing first class clinical care to all its patients. Our support of cutting-edge research work such as the Reitan Catheter Pump System, is just one example of our ongoing work to help patients to live better, fuller and longer lives.”
Corruption behind a firing at a British school
‘Bully’ named by fired dinner-lady is school governor’s son. The school initially tried to cover up the assault until the dinner lady spoke to the mother of the bullied girl. The school then fired the dinner lady for breaching some imagined code of Omerta
A governor at the school where a dinner lady was sacked for telling parents about alleged bullies is the mother of one of the four boys involved, The Times has learnt.
Angry parents are demanding the resignation of the headmistress and governors of Great Tey Primary School, Essex. Some are threatening to remove their children if Carol Hill, 60, is not reinstated. Mrs Hill, who was dismissed this week, has since been banned from a voluntary post in the Beaver Scouts and the local youth group because of the decision. The grandmother has spent thousands of pounds on legal fees and is preparing to take further action against the school.
The headmistress, Deborah Crabb, the governors and the local vicar, John Richardson, struck off the dinner lady for a breach of pupil confidentiality after she informed the parents of Chloe David, 7, that the girl had been tied up and whipped by a group of boys at playtime.
Parents questioned whether the decision was influenced by the fact that Kathryn Spicer, a parent governor who did not take part in the disciplinary hearings, is the mother of one of the four boys accused of tying Chloe’s wrists and ankles with a skipping rope.
Sarah Harris, 36, who has two children at the school, described the treatment of Mrs Hill as terrible and unfair. “Maybe this would have been dealt with differently had a governor’s child not been involved,” she told The Times. “You put your trust in these people not only to teach your children but to keep them safe and look after their pastoral care. I am worried and very concerned as to what else may have been covered up.”
Ms Spicer has been a governor at the school since 2006 and has two children there. She refused to comment yesterday. Mrs Crabb, 35, has been headmistress for three years. She was previously a reception teacher at the school, which has 60 pupils.
Sue Dyer, who has five children at the school, said that she no longer trusted the headmistress or the governors and called for Mrs Crabb to step down. Her husband, Ivan, said that parents had been concerned over the headmistress’s level of experience.
Mrs Hill is preparing a case against the school. Her lawyer was not permitted into the dismissal hearing on Monday but the school’s legal representatives and a human resources adviser from Essex County Council were present to advise the board.
Mrs Hill said that she was not able to comment until her appeal. Her husband, Ronald, 65, said: “She is a very strong person but this has got her down. She really loves her job.”
Kiddy “bang, bang” game deemed politically incorrect in sick England
Now the deranged headmistress is lying in her teeth about her actions
Excited by stories of the Second World War during school classes, Steven Cheek did what generations of young boys have done before him. Making an imaginary gun with his fingers, the nine-year-old pointed it at a classmate and said: ‘We’ve got to shoot the German army.’ Moments later he found himself in front of the deputy head, who accused him of racism because his ‘victim’ had been a Polish boy.
He was made to stand in front of the class and make an apology while his mother, Jane Hennessey, was called in by the head of Purford Green Junior School in Harlow, Essex. She was informed that a permanent record of her son’s misconduct would be placed on file.
Miss Hennessey yesterday accused the school of overreacting. ‘Steven has always wanted to join the Army when he grows up,’ she said. ‘That’s his burning ambition and he loved learning about the war in class. ‘In the week leading up to what happened, the school had been telling the children about the history of the war and he had come home every night talking about it.
‘He’s not a racist. He’s only nine years old and he didn’t single out the Polish boy, who is one of his good friends. This just happened to be who he was playing with. The deputy head shouted at Steven and said, “That’s racism”, which is ridiculous because Steven has a Polish aunt and they were on our side during the war. ‘He didn’t understand what he had done wrong. He was just playing a game like kids always do. He came home after being told off and said, “Mum, what’s racism?” The school has overreacted and been very heavy-handed. They could have quietly told him off instead of turning it into a big issue.’
Miss Hennessey, 37, who lives in Harlow with Steven’s father Darren Cheek, 39, an electrician, said her son got carried away during a class where the war was being discussed. He had never been in trouble before and had been bullied by other pupils since having to make the public apology.
‘My main concern is that this will stay on his record and count against him when he goes to secondary school.’ Miss Hennessey added: ‘Other teachers have told me that they think he has been harshly treated. Everything was blown completely out of proportion. ‘This young Polish child had only started at the school in September and I thought he and Steven got along well. ‘He speaks perfect English. I don’t think Steven even really knew or understood he was Polish and from another country. Children don’t see differences between people like adults do.’
Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education pressure group, accused the school of ‘absurd political correctness’. He said: ‘It’s a shame that teachers these days all too often fail to crack down on real problems like bullying but overreact to a child with a healthy imagination. Boys will be boys and what the teacher should have done was ask Steven not to play in the classroom, instead of sending him to the deputy head who then humiliated him in front of his class.’
The school, which has around 175 boys and girls aged between four and 11 and was rated ‘good’ in its last Ofsted report, yesterday claimed Steven’s class had been learning about space, not the war, when he was reprimanded and denied he had been accused of racism. Headmistress Viv Perri said: ‘When a pupil uses inappropriate language or terms that could be offensive, we have a responsibility to explain to them why their behaviour is wrong. ‘We want to give all our pupils the best possible start in life which can mean educating them about knowing right from wrong. ‘The incident in question involved a short conversation with a pupil to explain the inappropriateness of his comments and then a meeting with the parent to explain the context.’
The old “people are pollution” mantra of the ’70s is back
To heck with carbon dioxide. A new study performed by the London School of Economics suggests that, to fight climate change, governments should focus on another pollutant: us. Every new life, the report says, is a guarantee of new greenhouse gases, spewed out over decades of driving and electricity use. Seen in that light, we might be our own worst emissions.
The activist group that sponsored the report says that birth control could be one of the world’s best tools for fighting climate change. By preventing the creation of new polluters, the group says, contraceptives are a far cheaper solution than windmills and solar plants. It is an unorthodox — and for now, unpopular — way to approach the problem, which can seem so vast and close that it is driving many thinkers toward gizmos and oddball ideas.
“There is no possibility of drastically reducing total carbon emissions, while at the same time paying no attention whatever to the drastic increase in the number of carbon emitters,” said Roger Martin, chairman of the Optimum Population Trust, a British nonprofit that sponsored the report and whose goal is to rein in population growth in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. “For reasons of an irrational taboo on the subject, [family planning] has never made it onto the agenda, and this is extremely damaging to the planet.”
It is nothing unusual, of course, to think that the Earth could really use fewer of us. In the 1700s, Thomas Malthus worried that population growth would outstrip the food supply. And a decade ago, writer Bill McKibben connected environmental concerns to his decision to have one child in a book called “Maybe One.”
What is new, in the British study and a separate report from Oregon State University, are statistics that show exactly how much each life — and especially each American life — adds to the world’s emissions. In the United States, each baby results in 1,644 tons of carbon dioxide, five times more than a baby in China, and 91 times more than an infant in Bangladesh, according to the Oregon State study. That is because Americans live relatively long, and live in a country whose long car commutes, coal-burning power plants and cathedral ceilings give it some of the highest per-capita emissions in the world.
Seen from that angle, the Oregon State researchers concluded that child-bearing was one of the most fateful environmental decisions in anyone’s life. Recycle, shorten your commute, drive a hybrid vehicle, and buy energy-efficient light bulbs, appliances and windows — all of that would cut out about one-fortieth of the emissions caused by bringing two children, and their children’s children, into the world.
“People always consider the financial costs, and they consider the time cost,” said Paul Murtaugh, one of the Oregon State researchers, who said that he does not have children but that he is open to the idea despite his research. “We’re just attempting to put on the table the ballpark estimate of the environmental cost.”
So what, exactly, is the world supposed to do with this information? The researchers behind both studies are emphatic that they do not want people to be forced not to have children. But Martin, whose group sponsored the British study, said governments could help stop unwanted pregnancies by offering contraception and in some rare cases, abortion.
The British study found that $220 billion, spent over the next 40 years, might prevent half a billion births and prevent 34 billion tons of carbon dioxide. The cost, measured in 2020, would be about $7 for each ton reduced, the report said — far cheaper than solar power, at $51, or wind power, at $24.
But, for now, the world does not seem very interested. “I don’t know how to say ‘No comment’ emphatically enough,” said David Hamilton of the Sierra Club. “I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, but the primary solutions to climate change have to deal with what we do with the people who are here,” such as pushing for more renewable energy, and a limit on U.S. greenhouse gases.
The Obama administration declined to comment when asked about the family-planning idea. At the United Nations, which is overseeing global negotiations on reducing emissions, an official wrote in response to a query that “to bring the issue up … would be an insult to developing countries,” where per-capita emissions are still so low compared with those in the United States.
Another false rape claim in Britain
Arrogant council bureaucrat fires a man on the basis of an uncorroborated complaint and without any shred of due process — and the taxpayer foots the resultant bill
A senior council official accused of violently raping a colleague has been awarded £25,000 in damages. The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was awarded the payout after successfully suing his bosses for wrongful dismissal. He was sacked on the spot by the council’s chief executive after his alleged victim, a director of a separate department, claimed he had attacked her.
Although she refused to give police a formal statement the council chief, a close friend, was convinced she was telling the truth. He told Mr A, an assistant director, he believed that ‘in all probability’ he had ‘raped and sexually, physically and mentally assaulted, harassed and abused’ his colleague. He was then refused a disciplinary hearing on the basis that he would only deny the attack.
But when the police decided to take no further action due to a lack of evidence Mr A launched legal proceedings against his former employers seeking damages. After a six day hearing at Newcastle’s employment tribunal last August he was awarded damages for wrongful dismissal and sex discrimination.
It was only at the end of an appeal hearing, that details finally emerged of his compensation payout. Documents revealed he was originally awarded £25,000 for wrongful dismissal and a further £16,385 for sex discrimination. After the appeal hearing, however, the council’s claim against the award for sex discrimination was upheld.
The allegations against Mr A first surfaced in July 2007 when Mrs X, his alleged victim, told the chief executive she had been violently raped six weeks previously. ‘She said that this was the culmination of a series of incidents of sexual harassment,’ said Mr Justice Underhill, who heard the appeal. ‘She told him that she had not at that stage said anything to the police, and she made it plain that she was not prepared to make any formal complaint; but he persuaded her to permit him to speak to the police informally in order to seek advice.’
Days later the council’s chief executive met with Mrs X and a police sexual offences liaison officer who listened to a fuller account of the alleged rape. She claimed she was pushed into a disabled toilet by her alleged attacker who, she said, held his arm across her neck, before raping her. He told her that no one would believe her if she ever spoke out and left. She returned home, showered several times and placed her clothing in a black bin liner which she threw into a skip outside her property. The police informed the council that they believed she was telling the truth and that there were reasonable grounds to arrest Mr A on suspicion of rape.
On July 30 Mr A, who earned in excess of £70,000 and had worked for the authority since 2005, was summarily dismissed. He was handed a letter by the council’s chief executive which read: ‘The reason for your immediate dismissal is that I believe that you have, in all probability, raped and sexually, physically and mentally assaulted, harassed and abused X. ‘My belief is based upon recent discussions that I have had with X who has advised me of your actions and behaviour towards her since January of this year. ‘I have had several meetings with X during which she has advised me of a specific incident of rape, another specific incident of physical assault and abuse and repeated incidents of serious harassment and abuse. ‘These matters are clearly of the utmost seriousness. X has also spoken to the police who have indicated to me that her story is entirely credible. ‘In most potential disciplinary situations, I would envisage offering the alleged perpetrator a hearing to respond to allegations and provide his/her account before reaching any decision. ‘Were I to follow that course in this matter, I would expect you to categorically deny the allegations. The decision I would have to make would be whether or not to believe X. ‘I say without hesitation that I accept what X has told me, as I believe do the police.’
Mr A was later arrested and interviewed. He denied the attack and the police took no further action due to lack of evidence as the woman still refused to give a statement. Nor would she give evidence at the tribunal hearing. But the tribunal described the council’s decision to deny Mr A the right to a disciplinary hearing as ‘shocking’.
Describing the case as ‘unusual’ and ‘disturbing’ Mr Justice Underhill, in his judgement, added: ‘We also wish to make clear that the Claimant (the alleged rapist) was in this case very unfairly treated. ‘The Claimant was summarily dismissed…for offences of the utmost gravity without any notice whatever of the allegations against him and without any opportunity to answer X’s accusations – being told, indeed, that nothing he could say would be believed anyway.
But Mr Justice Underhill upheld the appeal by the Council and its Chief Executive, ruling that the man would not have been treated differently by them had he been a woman.