- Immigration officials at Bangkok’s international airport have stopped two Australian couples from leaving the country with their surrogate babies.
- Australian scientists studying zebrafish have stumbled upon what they say is one of the most significant discoveries in stem cell research.
- A Melbourne hospital has been left red-faced after it incorrectly sent out notifications to doctors saying 200 people had died, instead of telling them they had been discharged.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 15th Aug 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.
Immigration officials at Bangkok’s international airport have stopped two Australian couples with surrogate babies from leaving the country.
The couples were both homosexual and one was travelling with the surrogate mother.
It is understood two American couples have also been stopped from leaving Thailand in the last 24 hours.
Thailand’s newly formed national assembly, which is heavily dominated by members of the military, had been handed draft laws to ban commercial surrogacy earlier this week.
The ruling army general does not want Thailand to be a surrogacy hub and is expected to move quickly to outlaw the practice, essentially ending a lucrative foreign market.
The changes come in the wake of controversy surrounding a West Australian couple accused by their Thai surrogate of abandoning their newborn son – known as baby Gammy, who has Down syndrome – and only taking home his healthy twin sister.
It was later revealed father David Farnell has 22 child sex convictions, including unlawful and indecent dealing with girls as young as seven when he was in his 20s, but he says the girl is “100 per cent safe” in his care.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said it was unable to comment on specific cases.
In a statement, DFAT said it had updated its travel advice for Thailand to reflect changes in the country’s surrogacy requirements.
Since the case of baby Gammy came to light, a number of fertility clinics have been raided and shut down.
Australian scientists studying zebrafish have stumbled upon what they say is one of the most significant discoveries in stem cell research.
In research published on Thursday in the journal Nature, the Monash University scientists revealed that they uncovered how one of the most important stem cells in blood and bone marrow, the haematopoietic stem cell (HSC), is formed.
Professor Peter Currie, from Monash University’s Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, said the discovery brought researchers closer to growing HSCs in a lab.
“HSCs are the basis of bone marrow transplantations as a therapy, so when a leukaemia patient receives bone marrow, it’s really these HSCs that do the heavy lifting,” Professor Currie said.
“So when clinicians do bone marrow transplants, they need to find a matching donor recipients and we know that’s a hit-or-miss procedure.
“So for many years people have been trying to make HSCs in the dish, and they’ve had very little success in doing this.”
Professor Currie, who led the study, said the discovery brought scientists much closer to achieving that aim.
Professor Currie said he specialises in muscle stem cell biology and accidentally came across the discovery while studying muscle stem cells in zebrafish.
Professor Currie said zebrafish were the fastest-growing model for biomedical researchers because they were genetically similar to humans.
He said the other advantage of zebrafish was that they were completely transparent as larvae.
He said that is how his team were able to discover how the HSCs formed.
“We can see the cells glowing under the microscope so we can actually make home movies if you like, of the cells as they form in the embryo and by playing these movies back and looking at them, we get a very good understanding about how these particular cell populations form in the embryo,” he said.
“We hope that that will lead to better treatments for people with leukaemia and blood disorders.”
A Melbourne hospital has been left red-faced after it incorrectly sent out notifications to doctors saying 200 people had died, instead of telling them they had been discharged.
It has been revealed Austin Hospital advised a number of GPs on July 30 their patients had passed away while in hospital.
They were supposed to be told the patient had been released the day before.
Austin Health apologised for the mix up, blaming it on human error.
“We apologised unreservedly to affected clinics who, for the most part, were very understanding about the error,” it said in a statement.
“This was a human error. In the process of changing the template which notifies a GP of his or her patient’s death, the changes were saved to the standard template.”
It said the hospital contacted the GP clinics affected on the morning the notifications were sent out.
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