Monday, 14 January 2008

A Place in the Auvergne, Sunday, 13th January, 2007


Medicine's dream of growing new human hearts and other organs to repair or replace damaged ones received a significant boost Sunday when researchers at the University of Minnesota reported success in creating a beating rat heart in a laboratory.Experts not involved in the Minnesota work called it "a landmark achievement" and "a stunning" advance...

With modifications, scientists should be able to grow a new human heart by taking stem cells from a patient's bone marrow and placing them in a cadaver heart that has been prepared as a scaffold, Taylor said in a telephone interview from her laboratory in Minneapolis. The early success, she said, "opens the door to this notion that you can make any organ: kidney, liver, lung, pancreas - you name it and we hope we can make it."

Clara Rojas, one of two hostages freed after years of being held captive by Colombian rebels, gave birth to a son nearly four years ago by kitchen-knife Caesarean and has not seen him since he was taken from the jungle at the age of 8 months.

When she gets sick, Li Enlan, 78, picks herbs from the woods that grow nearby instead of buying modern medicines.

This is not the result of some philosophical choice, though. She has never seen a doctor and, like many residents of this area, lives in a meager barter economy, seldom coming into contact with cash.

"We eat somehow, but it's never enough," Li said. "At least we're not starving."

In this region of southern Henan Province, in village after village, people are too poor to heat their homes in the winter and many lack basic comforts like running water. Mobile phones, a near ubiquitous symbol of upward mobility throughout much of this country, are seen as an impossible luxury. People here often begin conversations with a phrase that is still not uncommon in today's China: "We are poor."

China has moved more people out of poverty than any other country in recent decades, but the persistence of destitution in places like southern Henan Province fits with the findings of a recent World Bank study that suggests that there are still 300 million poor in China - three times as many as the bank previously estimated.


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