- Prominent disability activist, writer and comedian Stella Young has died at the age of 32. Ms Young was born in Stawell, country Victoria, with osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disorder that causes bones to break easily.
- Interactive video games are being trialled in a Tasmanian hospital to help patients recover from the debilitating impacts of stroke.
- China has announced it will stop using organs from executed prisoners in transplant operations from next month, a Chinese newspaper reports.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 9th December 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
Prominent disability activist, writer and comedian Stella Young has died at the age of 32.
A statement from her family said she passed away unexpectedly on Saturday evening, in Melbourne.
Ms Young was born in Stawell, country Victoria, with osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disorder that causes bones to break easily.
At the age of 14 she began a life of advocacy in which she campaigned for the disabled community.
Tributes have poured in for Ms Young who was the former editor of the ABC’s disability news and opinion website, Ramp Up.
Ms Young was a member of the Victorian Disability Advisory Council, the Ministerial Advisory Council for the Department of Victorian Communities, the Youth Disability Advocacy Service and Women with Disabilities Victoria.
She was also a passionate advocate for women experiencing family violence.
“We ask community members to consider making donations in support of Domestic Violence Victoria, one of the causes Stella felt intensely passionate about,” the family statement said.
Australian Paralympic Committee Chief Executive Jason Hellwig said the disability community had lost one of its most prominent and passionate spokespeople.
Ms Young campaigned hard against the idea that having a disability made her exceptional or brave.
… [She stated:]
“I want to live in a world where we don’t have such low expectations of disabled people that we are congratulated for getting out of bed and remembering our own names in the morning.
“I want to live in a world where we value genuine achievement for disabled people, and I want to live in a world where a kid in Year 11 in a Melbourne high school is not one bit surprised that his new teacher is a wheelchair user.”
Interactive video games are being trialled in a Tasmanian hospital to help patients recover from the debilitating impacts of stroke.
Physiotherapists and patients have already seen the software’s benefits over traditional therapy methods.
Anita Jupp was not much of a gamer before she suffered two strokes in September.
“I’d never played a computer game in my whole life,” she said.
The 69-year-old has very little control over her left side.
Her physiotherapist, John Cannell, is hoping that will change thanks to new video games for stroke rehabilitation.
“We’ve been working at this for two and a half weeks, we’re already noticing that she’s starting to use her arm more,” he said.
Ms Jupp said she is seeing improvement.
“There’s one game where you catch an apple, I couldn’t catch the apple for love or money when I first started, I can now,” she said.
Researcher Marie-Louise Bird from the University of Tasmania said they are working with the software’s developers in Canada.
The Launceston General Hospital is one of only three places in the world trialling the software.
Physiotherapists said the game’s immediate feedback encouraged patients to concentrate more and stay engaged with their rehabilitation.
While the year-long trial is only running in hospitals, researchers are aiming for patients to eventually use the technology at home.
China has announced it will stop using organs from executed prisoners in transplant operations from next month, a Chinese newspaper reports.
The country will “comprehensively terminate” the practice from January 1, the Southern Metropolis Daily quoted Huang Jiefu, head of the China Organ Donation Committee, as saying.
Dr Huang said China had introduced a new donation system and voluntary donation would become the only source for organ transplants.
He made a similar pledge in November 2012, saying China would end its reliance on organs from executed prisoners within two years.
High demand for organs in China and a chronic shortage of donations meant death row inmates had been a key source for years, generating heated controversy.
International human rights groups accused Chinese authorities of harvesting organs from executed prisoners without their consent or that of their families – allegations the government denied.
China banned trading in human organs in 2007 but demand for transplants far exceeds supply in the country of 1.3 billion people, opening the door to forced donations and illegal sales.
Dr Huang said around 300,000 patients in China were in “urgent need” of organ transplants every year, but only about 10,000 operations were carried out, Thursday’s report said.
Organ donations are not widespread, as many Chinese believe they will be reincarnated after death and therefore feel the need to keep a complete body.
Apart from traditional thinking, fears over potential corruption were another cause of the low donation rates, Dr Huang added.
He said around 1,500 people had donated organs so far in 2014, more than the total for the previous four years.
China put 2,400 people to death last year, a fall of 20 per cent from 2012 and a fraction of the 12,000 in 2002, US-based rights group the Dui Hua Foundation said in October.
This has been the news on Health Professional Radio. For more information on today’s items head to hpr.fm/news and subscribe to our podcast on itunes.