Sign your donor cards

logo for trillium Gift of Life Network, green ribbon with white flowerI found my donor card! If you’ve ever had a friend or relative waiting for the organ transplant that could save their life, I hope you think of them and make your organs available when you no longer need them. Keep the donor card with your driver’s licence.

If you can’t find your card, you can register through the Trillium Gift of Life Network (Réseau Trillium pour le don de vie). In the Resources section, you can find the donor form.

Healthcare note: In Canada, organ transplants are free.

I wonder if the publicity last year for a young mother waiting for a heart-lung transplant encouraged more people to register. Year to date,  current page.

Flu clinics open for general public in Toronto

The flu clinics have inoculated enough health-care workers and people in high-risk groups to open for the general public. I’ve posted the flu clinic schedule and flu information links in the sidebar. The weekend clinics are from 1 – 9 p.m. and the weekday clinics are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Swine-flu clinics for free inoculations in Toronto

Iditarod on TV

I’m watching a show on Discovery Channel about the running of the Iditarod sled-dog race. It’s one of the longest races, about 1800 km. It recalls a famous delivery of diptheria vaccine to Nome, Alaska, through a blizzard in the ear;y 1900s. There are racers (human and canine), fans, and volunteers. Most of the racers rest at one of the checkpoints; others push on to find a quiet place. It’s important for the dogs to rest. Some winners do 51% racing, 49% running. About four hours of rest seems to be enough. It’s very important for the dogs to eat: they can burn off 9,000 kilocalories a day.

Stupid court!

The U.S. Supreme court has reversed the decisions of 3 district courts and 3 circuit courts and declared Bush’s 2003 ban on “partial birth abortions” to be constitutional. There’s no such medical procedure. The Center for Reproductive Rights says:

April 18, 2007: In a stunning reversal, the Supreme Court rules against women’s health and in favor of abortion restrictions. In its ruling upholding the Federal Abortion Ban case, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively overturned 30 years of precedent and announced that women’s health is no longer a paramount concern. The Center for Reproductive Rights said the Court’s decision paves the way for state and federal legislatures to enact additional bans on abortions as early as 12 weeks, including those that doctors say are safe and medically necessary.

Book: The Woman with a Worm in Her Head by Pamela Nagami, M.D.

This is a book in the style of Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

I found it quite interesting and a little scary: it’s a reminder of the dangers that lurk in daily life. The doctor mentions being inspired at one point by reading Animals Without Backbones by Ralph Buschbaum, which is the original edition of my current science read, Living Invertebrates, AKA “The Big Book o’ Invertebrates.”

The sections of this book are

  • Foreword by F. Gonzalez-Crussi, Emeritus Professor of Pathology
  • Introduction – about the author’s medical training
  • “Worm Hunt” – The man with a worm in his flesh. A man who visited Vietnam is struck by a strange illness, and the doctor must use her detective skills to discover the cause.
  • “Wounded Heart” – The doctor deals with heart disease caused by bacterial infection – remember rheumatic fever?
  • “Valley Fever” – A dust-borne fungus in California causes a local disease that can be a transient fever or a debilitating illness.
  • “AIDS” – The AIDS crisis arises in a few mysterious infections; builds in susceptible young men, drug users, transfusion recipients, and others; and finally is slowed by the first effective treatments.
  • “Maneater” – Flesh-eating Strep bacteria can attack anyone through an opening in the skin as small as a paper cut.
  • “A Fever from Africa” – Tropical diseases, including malaria, take huge medical resources to fight.
  • “Manju” – Some of the worst ills are slow brain diseases, apparently caused by imperfect virus particles or even twisted proteins.
  • “The Woman With a Worm in Her Head” – Cysticerosis caused by the pork tapeworm from undercooked pork (“The Other White Meat”) or other foods
  • “Septic Shock” – Staph infections can manifest in many ways from the deadly septic shock (including “childbed fever”) to scarlet fever and more.
  • “A Case of Chickenpox” – Chickenpox in unvaccinated adults can kill, so it’s important to check immunity and be aware of the symptoms.
  • “Call Me Spot” – Meningitis can cause purple spots under the skin. This is another case of bacteria that are ususally harmless getting into the wrong place or becoming virulent.
  • Conclusion – a continuing battle against infectious disease
  • Glossary
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index

See also “Currently Reading: The Woman With a Worm in Her Head.

Currently reading: "The Woman with a Worm in Her Head and Other True Stories of Infectious Disease" by Pamela Nagami

This is my current non-fiction book (other than the Big Book o’ Invertebrates, which is at home). It was published in the U.S. in as “Maneater” but the text is the same. Dr. Nagami is a doctor at the University of California. She has dealt with all manner of mysterious and troublesome diseases from parasitic infections to Strep A and Valley Fever. She has a chapter on the first cases of AIDS and the subsequent AIDS crisis.

You can read a review here.