Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

January 20, 2013

Medical breakthroughs improve quality of our lives

Still, let’s hope we don’t all need them.

Today’s article is not about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but I did want to start there.

Dr. King led a movement that lives on; we live in a day and age when African-Americans are finding themselves in positions of influence and authority from the White House on down. I especially want to salute the many physicians, surgeons, nurses and medical personnel who are of African-American heritage and serve their fellow humans (of all races) so well.

But many things beyond the racial/ethnic makeup of our medical teams has changed: Medical treatments have changed, too. True, antibiotics are still a mainstay, but consider how different things are from 50 years ago. We take Tylenol to reduce fever, but reserve aspirin for blood thinning only. Instead of prescribing pills, our physician might prescribe specific exercises. Modern physicians often incorporate nutritional supplements rather than mock them. Surgeries that once meant two weeks of bed rest in the hospital now result in getting up the same day and perhaps home the next. Giant scars that bring back scenes from the Frankenstein movies have been traded for tiny incisions.

According to the media, more changes are on the way. In today’s column, I would like to highlight a few possibilities that we might even label as eventual probabilities.

The Bible records many accounts of Jesus’ miracles, but only a few garnered more attention than restoring sight to the long-time blind. Two thousand years later, medical researchers may soon make significant strides in this direction. The BBC reports, “Totally blind mice have had their sight restored by injections of light-sensing cells into the eye, UK researchers report.

“The team in Oxford said their studies closely resemble the treatments that would be needed in people with degenerative eye disease.... Experts said the field was advancing rapidly, but there were still questions about the quality of vision restored.

“Patients with ‘retinitis pigmentosa’ gradually lose light-sensing cells from the retina and can become blind.... It’s the first proof that you can take a completely blind mouse, put the cells in and reconstruct the entire light-sensitive layer.” Amazing.

We all long for the day when simple, painless tests will diagnose our diseases at an early stage. Help may be on the way. According to The Futurist magazine:

“The Single Breath Disease Diagnostics Breathalyzer is being developed by a team of scientists at Stony Brook University in New York, led by materials scientist Perena Gouma. The device uses sensor chips coated with nanowires to detect chemical compounds that may indicate the presence of diseases or infectious microbes.

“While the first such ‘medical breathalyzers’ will be specific to one type of disease (for instance, to monitor diabetes), future hand-held devices will allow individual users to self-monitor and detect diseases ranging from lung cancer to anthrax exposure.”

One of my favorite fictitious book titles is about doing your own surgery. It’s called, “Suture Self.” On the serious side, though, we are at the point where we could be our own organ donors! Note this article from Foxnews.com:

“Scientists have been working to grow organs and other body parts from stem cells — cells which can become any type of cell and can be used to repair damaged tissue. Commonly, stem cells are harvested from a patient’s bone marrow and then used to grow more in a laboratory setting, but now, researchers have found that they can harvest them from the skin. This type of treatment has already been done to replace organs like trachea and bladders, and now scientists are trying to apply it to heart valves and intestines. Growing organs from the patient’s own cells will likely eliminate rejection of a transplant and the need for immune-suppressant drugs after surgery.”

The answer to immortality lies in a realm well beyond medical research. But the medical world is making great strides in its attempt to improve the quality of our lives, as well as their duration. Like you, I hope I will not need these breakthroughs! But we never know.

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@att.net.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • MAUREEN HAYDEN: Expiring term heightens urgency of legislator's mission State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrants from paying i

    July 22, 2014

  • TOM LoBIANCO: Indiana Democrats deal with divide on education On the face of it, the battles between Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz and supporters and staff of Republican Gov. Mike Pence have been a unifying force for Indiana Democrats. But the scrapping has exposed a deep rift within the party o

    July 22, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Is Evan Bayh contemplating another gubernatorial run? This could be the saga of “LeBron Bayh.”Like a thunderhead brewing in the distance, you could see this one coming. This was the progression: former state Democratic Chairman Dan Parker announces he will not become a candidate for mayor of Indianapoli

    July 21, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: Please go away already My wife is planning our summer vacation, which we will take in the fall. We took our spring vacation this summer. We got behind in 1984 and still haven't caught up. I don't have much input into the planning of these trips, but Mary Ellen did assign m

    July 21, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Internet, and future of communication One morning, I was chatting with some retired folks and the subject of paying bills on the Internet came up. One woman said she disposed of her computer years ago and pays her bills by mail. I commented she could get by just fine doing that. The othe

    July 20, 2014

  • FAITH BRAUTIGAM: Learning from others' mistakes through literature If you’ve ever been locked out of somewhere — your home, your car, your workplace — I expect you could tell me all the details of the incident, even if it was years or decades ago. Why? Our brains remember major events, and it’s a big deal to be stra

    July 20, 2014

  • RAY DAY: We need to get tough Last year I said I was going to quit trying to do anything about the shooting off of fireworks in the neighborhoods. But as anyone who knows me can say, I don't give up on things that are of utmost danger. Here it was, a week before the Fourth of Jul

    July 19, 2014

  • LEE HAMILTON: Is this country doomed to ceaseless polarization? We Americans are trapped in a political dilemma. We all like representative democracy, but we don't much like the way it's performing. The reason for this dissatisfaction is clear. Polls in recent years detail a polarized nation, divided both ideolog

    July 18, 2014

  • DAN COATS: Solving border crisis is a moral obligation More than 60,000 unaccompanied alien children — mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have been apprehended on America’s southern border during this fiscal year. Another 40,000 family members — one or both parents traveling with their chi

    July 18, 2014

  • MAUREEN HAYDEN: Road to funding Ind. highways is jammed If you’ve driven on either of Indiana’s two busiest interstates recently, you’ll understand why a blue-ribbon commission last week called for adding traffic lanes to those harrowing highways.The report, issued by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on T

    July 15, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller