A team of South African doctors in the capital city Pretoria has been hailed as pioneers in the field of global medicine after performing the first-ever transplant of a patient’s middle ear.
The achievement–which used 3D-printed technology to reconstruct the broken bones of a middle ear–is being celebrated as a long-term solution to conductive hearing loss. What’s more, the surgery can be performed on people of any age, including newborn babies, curing patients of a form of deafness that is caused by physical damage or infection in the middle ear as well as congenital birth defects and metabolic diseases.
The first patient to undergo the procedure was a 35-year-old male who lost his hearing after a car accident devastated his middle ear. Due to the nature of his trauma, the operation lasted about an hour and a half, according to Legit.
The brains behind the medical team at the University of Pretoria’s Steve Biko Academic Hospital, Professor Mashudu Tshifularo, had been studying conductive hearing loss over the past decade, but in the past two years he began investigating the use of 3D printing technologies for the purpose of scanning and wholly recreating the smallest bones, or ossicles, of the middle ear–namely the hammer, anvil and stirrup.
In a celebratory press release issued by the South African Department of Health, Tshifularo is quoted as explaining:
“By replacing only the ossicles that aren’t functioning properly, the procedure carries significantly less risk than known prostheses and their associated surgical procedure.
We will use titanium for this procedure, which is biocompatible. We use an endoscope to do the replacement, so the transplant is expected to be quick, with minimal scarring.”
Tshifularo told local radio station Jacaranda FM:
“This was one of our patients we have been waiting for, for this reconstruction for almost three years now because they are not affordable … [but] we have done something new in the world and people will remember us for that.”
[WATCH] A pioneering surgical procedure using 3D-printed middle ear bones, developed by Professor Mashudu Tshifularo and his team at the University of Pretoria (UP) Faculty of Health, may be the answer to conductive hearing loss, a middle ear problem caused by congenital birth defects, infection, trauma or metabolic diseases.
Posted by Gauteng Health Department on Wednesday, March 13, 2019
While expressing pride that he was the first in the world to revolutionize the new approach to address hearing loss, Tshifulara remains steadfast that the treatment must eventually become accessible and affordable for poor and working-poor patients, such as those who use South Africa’s public hospitals.
“Because we are doing it in the country and we are going to manufacture here, it has to be affordable for our people in state hospitals.
It will be very accessible because as long as we can train the young doctors to be able to do this operation, then it will be accessible for them as well.”
For Tshifularo, “innovate or perish” sums up his approach to medical science–both in terms of education, research, invention and clinical procedures, and also in terms of devising new solutions to the array of problems faced by struggling communities.
He hopes that he and his team at the university’s Department of Otorhinolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat) will receive the necessary funding from the government and private sponsors to ensure that this innovative approach to hearing loss treatment can get off the ground.
South African Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi has already pledged that the Department of Health will “do everything in our power to assist and mobilize resources to make sure that Prof. Tshifularo gets all the help he needs for this far-reaching innovation.”
Fitness Coach Shares Army Technique To Fall Asleep In 2 Minutes
We’re guessing that at least a few of you may have had a few nights – if not countless ones – where sleep didn’t necessarily come easily.
Indeed, about one in four Americans has experienced a strong bout of insomnia at some point each year. The sleeping disorder leads to poor health, weakened immunity and daytime fatigue, among other problems.
However, self-proclaimed fitness expert and personal trainer Justin Agustin claims that he knows the secret to slipping into a good night’s rest within minutes.
Agustin recently shared the video on TikTok, captioning his video with the exciting title: “Technique to falling asleep in two minutes!”
The clip has since racked up several million views, around 300,000 likes and thousands of comments, with many verifying that the technique worked for them.
“This technique was developed in the military to allow soldiers to fall asleep at any time, any place – even on the battlefield when the environment is extremely uncomfortable and there’s a lot of noise happening … Sleep for a soldier is crucial,” Agustin explained.
“According to my research, this was developed mainly for fighter pilots who need 100 percent of their reflexes and focus, which we all know decreases with the lack of sleep,” he added.
“You simply have to start by ‘calming your body’ by shutting down and relaxing each part of your body, from ‘head to toe’.
“Start by relaxing the muscles in your forehead,” Agustin continued.
“Relax your eyes, your cheeks, your jaw and focus on your breathing. Now go down to your neck and your shoulders.
“Make sure your shoulders are not tensed up. Drop them as low as you can and keep your arms loose by your side, including your hands and fingers.”
As you do this, you should ‘imagine this warm sensation going from your head to all the way down to your fingertips.
“Take a deep breath and slowly exhale, relaxing your chest, your stomach, down to your thighs, knees, legs and feet,” he said.
“Again, imagine this warm sensation going down from your heart all the way to your toes.”
Continuing, Agustin explained that the purpose was to “clear your mind of any stresses.”
“To do this, think of two scenarios: One – you’re lying in a canoe on a calm lake with nothing but a clear blue sky above you. Two – you’re lying in a black velvet hammock in a pitch black room.
“At any time when you start thinking of anything else or you start getting distracted, repeat these words for 10 seconds: ‘Don’t think, don’t think, don’t think.’”
Agustin claims that one can perfect this technique by practicing it every night for no less than six weeks, saying: “Apparently, 96 percent of people who mastered this technique are actually able to fall asleep within two minutes of shutting their eyes.”
A number of commenters vouched for the technique, with one claiming: “I’m a military brat and was taught this. I also had a veteran as a psychology teacher in college who taught this. it definitely works.”
Another said: “I didn’t know this was a military thing. A college prof told me about this. I fall asleep before I reach my feet.”
While a third commented: “We learned this at summer camp back in the late 70s. I love it.”
However, one commenter wryly noted: “Tik Tok don’t help either.”
In World First, Man Receives Heart Transplanted From Gene-Hacked Pig
In a groundbreaking world first, a 57-year-old man in the U.S. has become the first person in the world to receive a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig.
The revolutionary procedure’s apparent success offers hope to hundreds of thousands of people who are struggling with failing vital organs amid scarce supplies of human organs.
The patient, David Bennett of Maryland, is in good shape days after the experimental seven-hour operation took place in Baltimore on Friday, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The surgical procedure is the result of years of fervent efforts by researchers to develop pigs whose organs would be compatible with the human body, and was made possible by recent advances in gene editing and cloning technology. The heart transplant was preceded months ago by a successful kidney transplant in New York which also used an organ harvested from a genetically engineered pig.
“This is a watershed event,” said David Klassen, chief medical officer at the United Network for Organ Sharing, reports New York Times. “Doors are starting to open that will lead, I believe, to major changes in how we treat organ failure.”
The University of Maryland doctors received a special dispensation from regulators to carry out the procedure due to the fact that Bennett’s death was certain in the absence of a transplant.
Surgeon Bartley Griffith, who took part in the transplant, expressed pride in taking part in bringing the world “one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis,” reports BBC. Roughly 17 people die every day in the U.S. while awaiting transplants, which are in extremely short supply.
“People die all the time on the waiting list, waiting for organs. If we could use genetically engineered pig organs they’d never have to wait, they could basically get an organ as they needed it,” said Christine Lau, Department of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
“Plus, we wouldn’t have to fly all over the country at night-time to recover organs to put them into recipients.”
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