Monday, December 26, 2016

Organizing for Action

Seven years ago this month, we brought my baby son Isaac home from the hospital for the first time -- at the age of 13 months.

Before turning one, he spent 11 months in the intensive care unit and underwent 14 major surgeries to address a congenital defect called esophageal atresia -- then, right before he came home in 2009, we learned that he was close to reaching the lifetime cap our health insurance company had set. They were going to end his coverage before he could even walk.

It was almost unfathomable to me, but then it actually happened. That February, his medical supplies didn't arrive, and we were told our one-year-old was no longer covered. Luckily, we were able to get him insurance again under Medicaid, but that didn't cover the procedures Isaac still needed from specialists outside of our state.

Obamacare was signed into law shortly thereafter -- and it has saved his life. Isaac is now eight years old and has been through 22 surgeries -- he's a sweet, strong little boy who brings more joy to all who know him than I can say. He is truly an incredible kid.

Right now, millions of Americans like Isaac are benefiting from Obamacare. That kind of progress is worth protecting, but it's up to all of us to keep fighting for this law.

Thanks to Obamacare, lifetime limits on most beneficiaries are prohibited. The provisions of the law also made it possible for kids like Isaac to get the care they need from specialists across the country. Let me tell you, the freedom to choose his doctors has been crucial to ensuring that he gets the best quality care -- without Obamacare, his options would have been more limited.

While Isaac's condition is rare, I know we're not the only family experiencing the life-changing benefits of Obamacare. This law has saved lives. It's helped families like ours sleep more peacefully, knowing we have quality, affordable insurance when we need it. That's why it's so important that we keep fighting for this law and the protections it guarantees.

Our experiences and our voices -- yours and mine -- need to be represented in this conversation. We have to keep speaking out about the positive impact Obamacare has had on the lives of so many people in our own communities, and why it shouldn't be repealed. We have to keep pushing to protect and build on the progress we've made -- we can't afford to give up.

Isaac, and the millions of Americans who are now able to get coverage, need us to be as strong as ever in this fight.

Speak up now -- add your support for protecting Obamacare today.

Add my name

P.S. This is Isaac -- Obamacare has saved his life.

Obamacare has had a life-changing impact for Isaac.



Merry Christmas from President Obama and the First Lady

President Obama and the First Lady just gave their annual holiday message from the White House for the last time. Check it out:

Merry Christmas from the Obamas

They talked about the values that bring Americans together over the holiday season:

The First Lady: The idea that we are our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper. That we should treat others as we would want to be treated. And that we care for the sick, feed the hungry, and welcome the stranger, no matter where they come from, or how they practice their faith.

The President: Those are values that help guide not just my family’s Christian faith, but that of Jewish Americans, and Muslim Americans; nonbelievers and Americans of all backgrounds. And no one better embodies that spirit of service than the men and women who wear our country’s uniform and their families.

And they called on us to support the Americans who serve us all year round: our men and women in uniform.

The First Lady: As always, many of our troops are far from home this time of year, and their families are serving and sacrificing right along with them. Their courage and dedication allow the rest of us to enjoy this season. That’s why we’ve tried to serve them as well as they’ve served this country. Go to JoiningForces.Gov to see how you can honor and support the service members, veterans and military families in your community -- not just during the holidays, but all year round.

So make sure to watch -- and stay tuned for a throwback clip.

Merry Christmas from the Obamas 2009

"So as we look forward to the New Year, let’s resolve to recommit ourselves to the values we share. And on behalf of the all the Obamas -- Michelle, Malia, Sasha, Bo, and that troublemaker Sunny -- Merry Christmas, everybody."

Forget blood type. Soon we'll be able to transplant organs from different species

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which."
                                 George Orwell, Animal Farm, 1946
If you need a kidney transplant tomorrow, chances are you will wait around three years. Even before you get transplanted, assuming you live, you will most likely spend years on dialysis. Right now there are more than 100,000 people in the US waiting for kidney transplants. Every year nearly 5,000 people will die just waiting for one. On the horizon though, is a potential source of donors that may revolutionize kidney transplantation as we know it. Best of all, it may be that we only have to go to a local farm to get one.
In 1984 at Loma Linda University Medical Center an infant girl known as "Baby Fae" received the first xenotransplant, also known as non-human to human transplant. In this case, Baby Fae received a baboon heart in a last ditch effort to save her life. Sadly, Baby Fae died 21 days later. 
The roadblock to success with this kind of therapy in transplantation has always been how best to keep you from rejecting your new organ. This is the cornerstone of the science whose goal is to best match your gift and to protect it for the remainder of what we hope will be your long life. This is essentially the same science that determines blood types and why we need to match blood donors with blood recipients.
You see, your body is able to recognize an unmatched transplanted organ such as a heart, kidney or liver, as not being your own. This recognition of the unmatched organs is triggered when certain proteins on their cells cause a cascade of biological processes in which your body mounts an attack on your newly transplanted organ. This leads to organ rejection and possibly even your death.
    The ability to successfully transplant an organ is a product of two fundamental therapies. First we have find an organ from a donor whose proteins most closely look like yours, and second we have to protect that organ with medications meant to keep your immune system from attacking your new transplant. Even then the organ is often rejected, an incredible loss not only for you but for the family of the deceased or living donor who graciously tried to save your life.
The trouble with the Baby Fae case is that the heart of the baboon, while similar in size and structure to her own heart, simply did not look like her human heart on the cellular level. Fae’s own immune system attacked the baboon heart and she died.
Over the years since the early 80’s there has been a resurgence in research the focus of which is to alter the cells of non-human species and ultimately make those cells resemble those of a human being. 
Scientists have started to make huge inroads through cloning. The model that seems the most promising is not a primate such as a monkey, or chimp. Instead the animal that holds the most promise of all potential animal donors is of all things…the pig.  Incredibly scientists have succeeded in removing those proteins from pig cells that are most responsible for rejection. In the simplest of explanations, these pig kidneys, on the cellular level are coming close to being indistinguishable from humans. They are so close in fact that they may not even need to be matched. You can essentially put the same kidney into…well anybody.
Transplant surgeon Dr. Joseph Tector, and his laboratory at the University of Alabama, is on the forefront of this scientific advancement. They are very close. So close in fact that I predict, for the coming year, that Dr. Tector will put the first pig kidney into a human being, possibly as early as the end of 2017, or the very beginning of 2018. I also predict this will work and change the way we think of organ transplantation forever. 
Down the line I envision huge cloning farms, producing the same pig over and over. Essentially a continuous and unlimited source of kidneys, so many in fact that we will probably need hospitals solely meant for kidney transplantation. In time I predict this process will eventually translate to livers, hearts, even intestines but for now the focus is on kidneys. I am excited to see what will happen in the near future and where we are headed. We just may be on the verge of one of the most significant advancements in medicine in the last fifty years. One that few even knew was within our grasp.
Perhaps George Orwell was right, at least when it comes to the kidney, in the very near future we may not be able to tell which is which.
This article is part of the LinkedIn Top Voices list, a collection of the must-read writers of the year. Check out more #BigIdeas2017 here.       
Louis M. Profeta MDDr. Louis M. Profeta is an emergency physician practicing in Indianapolis. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book, The Patient in Room Nine Says He's God.
Feedback at is welcomed.    

No comments:

Post a Comment