January 2009 Newsletter

Posted By on February 21, 2009

NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE NEWS…Umbilical Cord Cells Grow New Heart Valves…Umbilical cord blood cells harvested from newborn babies can be used to create new heart valves that could replace defective valves in the babies, according to a report given at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in new Orleans November 10th.  “In our concept, if prenatal testing shows a heart defect, you could collect blood from the umbilical cord at birth, harvest the stem cells, and fabricate a heart valve that is ready when the baby needs it,” Dr. Ralf Sodian of University Hospital of Munich told Press Association News Although use in humans is still at least five years away, Sodian and colleagues reported that their early research has been very promising.  Retrieving donated umbilical cord cells (harvested without any danger to the newborn babies), they grew the cells in culture for 12 weeks, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.  They then put the cells onto biodegradable “scaffolds” in the shape of heart valves and watched through electron microscopes as the cells formed a tissue layer.  Future treatment would allow these newly formed valves to be implanted and to replace defective ones in the babies.  Eventually, the scaffold would harmlessly degrade, leaving the valve to continue working, the Times-Picayune reported. Major benefits to this approach are that the cells would continue to grow along with the child and that there will be no immune system rejection because the cells are harvested from the child’s own cord blood.  Currently, doctors replace unhealthy heart valves with donated human or animal valves, or use artificially made ones.  However, these valves do not grow, meaning that the children face several surgeries throughout their childhood as larger valves are implanted, according to Press Association News.  “Tissue engineering provides the prospect of an ideal heart valve substitute that lasts throughout the patient’s lifetime and has the potential to grow with the recipient and to change shape as needed.” Sodian adds.

 INDIANA RIGHT TO LIFE NEWS…Holiday Gift Certificates May Be Used To Pay For Abortions At Planned Parenthood…Indiana’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, is putting its own tragic twist on the Christmas season by announcing the sale of gift certificates that can be used to pay for surgical or chemical abortions.  According to Planned Parenthood spokesperson, Chrystal Struben-Hall, “We decided not to put restrictions on the gift certificates, so it’s for whatever people feel they need the services for most.”  “How sad that during a season meant to celebrate the birth of Christ, Planned Parenthood is making a mockery of Christmas by offering these gift certificates that can be used to pay for the killing of unborn children,” notes IRTL President and CEO Mike Fichter.  Planned Parenthood currently operates three abortion clinics in Indiana located in Merrillville, Indianapolis, and Bloomington.  According to its most recent annual report, just under 6,000 children were aborted in Planned Parenthood’s Indiana clinics alone in 2007.  That figure accounts for roughly half of the annual number of abortions in Indiana.

NEW LAW HELPS PARENTS OF BABIES WITH DOWN SYNDROME…Parents who receive diagnoses that their unborn children have Down syndrome or other conditions now have the right to receive up-to-date, comprehensive information about prognosis, support services, and adoption.  Pro-life President George W. Bush signed the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act into law October 8th.  “President Bush signed into law a bill that will help an untold number of expecting parents who learn that their unborn child may be born with a disability,” co-sponsor Sen. Sam Brownback said in a statement.  “This is a great victory for the culture of life we should all seek to promote.  Currently, 90 percent of children prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted.  That number is much too high and suggests that we as a society are not doing everything we can to protect every human life, at every stage.”  The bill also calls for the establishment of a national registry for parents who want to adopt babies with conditions such as Down syndrome, spina bifida, or cystic fibrosis, according to the Associated Press.  Current registries are small and are not known to most parents who receive such diagnoses.  Many parents report that doctors present a Down syndrome diagnosis with regret and the immediate assumption that an abortion will follow, according to both anecdotal accounts and two studies published in 2005.  “The majority of the parents said that the information they got from their physicians was inaccurate, incomplete and sometimes insensitive,” study author Brian Skotko, a physician with Children’s Hospital of Boston, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  “It was in no way consistent with the advancements and possibilities and support that we’ve seen.”  Parents of adopted children with Down syndrome report a love and fulfillment that counters doctors’ negative prognoses, even if the kids may face unique health problems.  A family profiled in the Washington Post has adopted four children with syndrome, including one boy from Taiwan whose birth parents sought better care for their son.  Mark Li and Carol Lai, the birth parents of Justin who was adopted by Barbara and Tripp Curtis of Bluemont, Virginia, visited their son recently and were thrilled by his progress and the love and care he receives from the Curtises.  “It gives me peace of mind to know Justin is doing pretty well,” Li told the Post.  “He is learning.  He is growing.  It helps me sleep better at night.”

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