Entries in Oregon (10)


Oregon Teen Discovers Trick to Avoiding Cat Allergies

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For anyone who has ever wanted to have a cat for a pet but was prohibited by allergies, one Oregon teen may have found a solution.

Savannah Tobin, 17, is a high school senior in Oregon who volunteers at a local humane society. Savannah's love for cats was never a question, but she could never keep one as a pet because both she and her mother suffer from allergies. Her work at the Willamette Humane Society in Salem, Ore., made her wonder whether there were certain types of cats that would not affect her or her mother.

After doing some research, Savannah found out that it isn't hair or dander that causes allergic reactions, but rather the cat's saliva that prompted her allergy attacks.

"As they groom themselves, they're covering their body in that protein. So we're actually allergic to the saliva and it's not the hair," Tobin says.

Now, Savannah can perform swab tests and analyze a cat's saliva to determine which of her furry friends are hypo-allergenic. Her idea won her the Intel bio-chemistry award this year. This autumn, Tobin will attend the University of California-Davis.

No word yet on whether she will bring along a furry friend.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Cloning Technique Allows Scientists to Produce Human Stem Cells

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Scientists at the Oregon National Primate Research Center say that they have used a cloning technique to turn an ordinary human skin cell into an embryonic stem cell.

The breakthrough in stem cell research could potentially cure a wide array of diseases, according to HealthDay News. The stem cells produced in the research are genetically identical to the person from whom the original cell was taken. Once the cell is "reprogrammed" into a stem cell, it can differentiate into a number of different types of tissue.

While HealthDay News points out that the research has some concerned, researchers do not consider the ability to reprogram cells a major breakthrough in terms of actual human cloning.

The researchers managed to take the original cell's nucleus, which contains genetic information, and implant it into an egg cell that had had its DNA removed. After the transfer, the egg develops and produces usable stem cells. Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a senior scientist at the ONPRC, told HealthDay News that "stem cells derived through this technique demonstrated their ability to convert just like normal embryonic stem cells, into several different cell types."

Most notably, this research marks a breakthrough for reproductive cloning in that it did not involve the use of fertilized embryos.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Oregon Faith Healer Parents Get Probation in Son's Death

Hemera/Thinkstock(PLEASANT HILL, Ore.) -- The "faith healer" parents of an Oregon teenager who died due to a lack of medical care will be required to contact a doctor when any of their other six children are sick for more than one day, according to the terms of their probation.

Russel and Brandi Bellew were sentenced to five years of probation on Tuesday after they pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the death of Brandi's biological son, Austin Sprout, 16. An autopsy found Austin died of an infection caused by a burst appendix.

The couple, along with their six surviving children, belongs to the General Assembly and Church of the First Born, which eschews modern medicine. The group takes its belief from a New Testament passage in the Gospel of James that says the sick should be prayed over and anointed with oil, according to Rick Ross, an expert on cults.

"They take this verse out of context and take it to mean this is the only thing you can do while sick," Ross said. "In their mind they see it as a choice not between the church and saving the life of their child, they see it as a choice between God and me."

Bob Schrank, an attorney for Brandi Bellew, said despite the couple's beliefs, they are "committed to complying with their conditions of probation."

In December, Sprout became ill with cold and flu-like symptoms. Instead of getting him medical attention, the couple chose to pray. Sprout died five days before Christmas.

"According to the group and its leaders, if someone goes to the doctor for medical care, they have gone against God," said Ross.

After an autopsy, the Bellews were arrested in February and were barred from speaking to each other since they were co-defendants in the case, Schrank said.

"[Russel] was allowed to come to the home to visit the kids but [Brandi] couldn't be there. The rule was they couldn't have contact," Schrank said.

Schrank said the Bellews, who did not offer a statement in court, are "great parents" and "at least 20" people sent letters vouching for them.

In August, prosecutors met with members of the Bellews' church to discuss state child neglect laws and to let them know choosing not to seek medical care for a child would not be tolerated, the Eugene Register Guard reported.

Prosecutor Erik Hasselman told the newspaper congregants seemed to be receptive.

"This is not a denomination that feels that its faith is at odds with the laws of the community," he said.

The case is one of many in which parents have been held criminally responsible for neglecting to seek medical attention for their children.

Earlier this year, an Oklahoma woman was found guilty of second degree manslaughter and sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

Prosecutors said Susan Grady, who belongs to the Church of the First Born, chose to treat her 9-year-old son's diabetes complications with prayer. He died days later.

Last year, Dale and Shannon Hickman, an Oregon couple who belonged to the church, were sentenced to 75 months in prison after they failed to seek medical care following the birth of their premature son at home. The baby died nine hours later.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Oregon Doctor Charged in Patient's Death from Botched Tummy Tuck

Multnomah County Sheriffs Office(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- An Oregon doctor has pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a manslaughter charge in the death of her friend on whom she'd performed a tummy tuck. The friend experienced "seizure-like activity" hours after the surgery at the doctor's clinic, according to the Oregon Medical Board, and died four days later.

Dr. Soraya Abbassian, 44, also faces a misdemeanor reckless endangerment charge that stems from a tummy tuck she'd performed on another friend to which she also pleaded not guilty.

A grand jury indicted Abbassian Monday on one manslaughter charge and one misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment.

The Oregon Medical Board ruled that Abbassian, who practiced internal medicine and was not a surgeon, did not have adequate backup -- including support staff, equipment to monitor vitals or a crash cart, which would have had resuscitative drugs, oxygen and a defibrillator -- in the event her patient suffered distress during the procedure.

"This case illustrates just what can happen without adequate personnel or supplies," Kathleen Haley, executive director of the Oregon Medical Board, told ABC News.

On Dec. 15, 2010, Abbassian performed a tummy tuck on Judith Desmarets, 59, who was her friend and employee, according to a complaint filed by the Oregon Medical Board in Multnomah County District Court.

Shortly after Abbassian administered anesthetic, Desmarets complained of chest pains and shortness of breath, Haley said.

"[Dr. Abbassian] ended up having to leave the room and call 911. In that call she was very distraught," Haley said.

By the time paramedics arrived, Desmarets was not breathing and did not have a pulse, according to the court complaint.

Desmarets never regained consciousness and died four days later at Portland Adventist Medical Center.

The medical examiner ruled Desmarets died of inadequate oxygen supply to her brain tissue.

Abbassian's license was suspended on Dec. 23, 2010, Haley said.

Haley said this was the first case in her 18 years at the Oregon Medical Board that she could remember a doctor facing criminal charges relating to medical care.

"The essence was she was really trying to help people, and do it as a friend, but obviously, one has to have professional judgment and training for this sort of thing," Haley said.

Dr. Stephen Greenberg, director of New York's Premier Center for Plastic Surgery and author of the book A Little Nip, A Little Tuck, said he uses a board-certified anesthesiologist and does not administer the drugs himself. Abbassian administered the anesthetic on the patient herself, according to court documents.

Tummy tucks can be done in an accredited office environment but only with proper patient selection and proper training, Greenberg said.

"You want to make sure your cosmetic surgeon is a boar- certified plastic surgeon," he said. "Unfortunately in this country, a lot of people call themselves cosmetic surgeons who are not necessarily trained in plastic surgery."

Messages left for Abbassian and her attorney were not immediately returned.

She was released from the Multnomah County jail Tuesday, after posting $50,000 bail.

Abbassian's next court appearance is set for Oct. 18.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Oregon Man to Lose Fingers from Black Plague

Pixland/Getty Images(BEND, Ore.) -- Doctors will amputate an Oregon man's fingers and his toes next week, which were ravaged by the black plague, an infection prevalent in medieval times that is rarely seen in the U.S. today.

Paul Gaylord, 59, is recovering at the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Ore., after he contracted the plague in early June, said his niece, Andrea Gibb.

"We all thought it was crazy," Gibb said.  "Even the doctors thought, 'No way, it can't be.'  They did not think at all.  It was like turning a page in a book."

Only five to 10 cases of the plague occur each year in the United States, predominantly in the southwestern part of the country, said Sue Straley, a professor at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and an expert on the plague, making it more "rare" to have a case in the Pacific Northwest.

The infectious disease is carried by fleas and can infect humans and animals, Straley said.

In Gaylord's case, he contracted the disease from his family cat, Charlie, when he tried to remove something bulging from the cat's throat.

Gaylord reached into the animal's mouth to remove the bulge, which turned out to be a rodent, Gibb said.  When he was unable to dislodge the mouse, Charlie "lashed out" at Gaylord, "attacking him," said Gibb.

Gaylord shot Charlie to end the animal's suffering and buried the pet, who had "been a part of the family and was loved" for six years, in his yard, Gibb said.  Two days later, Gaylord awoke with "flu-like symptoms."

Gibb said he visited a doctor, who diagnosed him with cat scratch fever and advised him to return if his symptoms worsened.

A few days later, they did.

"He was pale as a ghost and sweat was dripping off of him," Gibb said.

Gaylord was taken to the the hospital, where his family was told he was "in grave condition" and his organs were beginning to fail.

The cat was dug up from Gaylord's yard and tested positive for the plague, the Crook County Health Department confirmed.  Gaylord spent a month in the intensive care unit at the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, and is now recovering at the hospital.

Gaylord will no longer be able to continue his work as a welder, but he's very optimistic and knows he is lucky to be alive.

"He is so positive.  He's very positive, eating and exercising his hands and fingers, trying to move them.  He's just happy to be alive," Gibb said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Father of Oregon Suicide Law Takes Own Life

Compassion & Choices(NEW YORK) -- One of the first physicians to voice support for Oregon’s controversial assisted-suicide legislation in the early 1990s has used the state’s Death with Dignity Act to end his own life.

Dr. Peter Goodwin died March 11 after taking lethal medication. He was 82 and suffered from a fatal brain disease.

Goodwin was surrounded by his four children and their spouses, according to the advocacy group Compassion & Choices, which announced his death. The medication — a fast-acting barbituate — gave Goodwin a “peaceful death” in less than 30 minutes, they said.

“It was a good death and the family appreciated that,” organization spokesman Steve Hopcraft told ABC News. “Peter was unique.”

Hopcraft said the family was “grieving” and not yet giving interviews.

In 2006, Goodwin had been diagnosed with a rare and fatal brain disease known as corticobasal degeneration, which can affect balance, muscle control and speech, as well as cognition. By January, his doctors estimated he had six months to live.

Last year, he had talked about how he wanted to find the right time to end his own life, according to the Oregonian. “I don’t want to die,” he said then. “No way do I want to die. I enjoy life; I enjoy company; I enjoy my friends. I have many, many, many friends.”

Under the Oregon law, doctors can prescribe medication to hasten the death of a terminally ill patient with a six-month prognosis. The patients must be mentally competent and administer the medication themselves.

More than 500 people have used the Oregon law to end their lives. The initiative — the first in the country — has survived a Supreme Court challenge. Physician-assisted death is also legal in Washington State.

Born in London and raised in South Africa, Goodwin practiced as a family physician in Oregon and Washington for five decades.  In the fight to pass Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act in the early 1990s, he was widely credited for neutralizing the Oregon Medical Association, which could have seen the measure fail at the ballot.

Goodwin has said he first became interested in the cause 20 years ago when a patient asked for his help. The patient had a fatal spinal tumor and was in severe pain. The patient’s wife asked Goodwin if she could administer a prescription, but he ultimately refused, telling her it was against the law.

He retold the story to the Oregon legislature, saying his inability to act when the man was in such pain made Goodwin feel like a coward, according to the Oregonian.

“We cannot deal compassionately with people if we limit their options,” he reportedly said.

Goodwin later served as the first medical director of Compassion & Choices, which continues to fight for “death with dignity” efforts in states like Massachusetts and Hawaii.

“I was honored to call Peter Goodwin a compatriot and a friend,” said its president Barbara Coombs Lee. “Our hearts are broken at this loss. The state of Oregon, medicine and the world have lost a great leader. Most of all, our sympathies are with  his family, whom he dearly loved.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Parents Get $2.9M in Down Syndrome Girl ‘Wrongful Birth’ Suit

Photodisc/Thinkstock(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- The parents of a four-year-old Oregon girl with Down syndrome were awarded $2.9 million after doctors misdiagnosed their daughter as not having the condition during a prenatal screening.

Ariel and Deborah Levy of Portland, Ore., filed a “wrongful birth” lawsuit against Legacy Health System, claiming that they would have terminated the pregnancy had they known they would have a special-needs child.

The Levys said the doctors were “negligent in their performance, analysis and reporting” of test results after their child was born as well.

“It’s been difficult for them,” said David K. Miller, the Levy’s lawyer, according to ABC News affiliate KATU. “There’s been a lot of misinformation out there.

“These are parents who love this little girl very, very much,” Miller said. “Their mission since the beginning was to provide for her and that’s what this is all about.”

The $2.9 million will cover the estimated extra lifetime costs of caring for someone with Down syndrome.

After the decision was announced, Legacy Health issued a statement that read, “While Legacy Health has great respect for the judicial process, we are disappointed in today’s verdict. The legal team from Legacy Health will be reviewing the record and considering available options. Given this, we believe that further comment at this point would not be appropriate.”

It’s unclear what type of genetic testing the couple underwent. Genetic counselors say there are different types of screening options, including amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling, and an ultrasound combined with blood testing.

A blood test with an ultrasound will only predict the risk of developing Down syndrome or other genetic abnormalities, said Virginia Carver, a prenatal genetic counselor at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.

Amniocentesis will determine whether or not a child has Down syndrome and is considered the “gold standard” of testing, Carver said. That test is typically about 99 percent accurate.

“But even the most accurate test isn’t 100 percent accurate,” she said. “There is a small percentage of chance that the testing might not be correct because of human error.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Newborn's Death Revives Debate over Mandatory Midwife Licensing

Photodisc/Thinkstock(EUGENE, Ore.) -- Oregon's thriving midwife community has long operated outside the bounds of state regulation, but a recent increase in safety reports combined with the highly publicized death of a Eugene, Oregon newborn during a homebirth this July has revived debate over whether midwives should have to be licensed to practice in the state.

Among the 40 states that allow midwifery, the laws regulating them vary greatly.  Oregon and Utah, however, are the only states that have optional licensure of midwives.

It was to one of the unlicensed midwives, Darby Partner, that Eugene resident Margarita Sheikh turned to this summer when preparing to give birth to her son.

But tragedy struck as Partner and her assistant, Laura Tanner, were delivering Sheikh's son Shahzad.  He was born not breathing and attempts to revive him failed.

Sheikh said Partner initially ignored her requests to be taken to a hospital and that Partner and Tanner panicked when her infant was not breathing, arguing over how to perform infant CPR.  They eventually took Sheikh to a nearby hospital shortly after her son's birth but it was too late to save him.

Though Partner has more than a decade of experience, according to her online midwife profile, she does not have the optional state licensure nor certification as a professional midwife (CPM) that is offered by the North American Registry of Midwives.

Because unlicensed midwives are not regulated by the state, Sheikh cannot file a complaint against this midwife.

Now, Sheikh is calling for mandatory licensure of all midwives so her baby's death is not "for nothing."

Many midwives and advocates of midwifery contest the notion of mandatory licensure, arguing that it will not change the safety of home births.

"We're not in favor of mandatory licensure," said Susan Moray, press officer for Midwives Alliance of North America.  "We don't see that it makes a difference in birth outcomes.  It doesn't create more safety."

The alliance supports the CPM training, but hesitates to say that midwives need even that training because there are many qualified midwives with years of experience that have neither.  Instead, Moray said, women should look to standards of care set by the midwife community.

"We do peer reviews several times a year and ask the midwives how many births they've delivered, what complications they've handled, and which medications they can use," she said.  "I would encourage any woman seeking a midwife to ask the same questions."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Phony Doctor Sneaks into Oregon Hospital, 'Mistreats' Patient

Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Lucas Orlin Ebert looked the part. He dressed in a doctor's smock and vest with the insignia of Oregon Health and Sciences Hospital, and told a woman he was a plastic surgeon.

The 21-year-old was so convincing as a medical doctor that the woman, Sabrine Strader of Beaverton, agreed to meet him at the Portland hospital, which he had sneaked into with bogus identification.

Strader, 45, said that she had given Ebert a few thousand dollars to perform gastric bypass surgery at OHSU. She had met with Ebert several times, and he had told her to stop her pain relievers and anti-anxiety medication that she used for panic attacks, according to the Oregonian.

"He believes what he says, so he's very persuasive," Strader told ABC's affiliate KATU.

Ebert got caught when Strader turned up at the hospital's information desk to ask where to go for her surgery with "Dr. Ebert." When hospital authorities began looking for the doctor, they realized he was a phony.

Police arrested Ebert Monday night on charges of felony criminal mistreatment and theft.

Experts say it's hard to know what motivates someone to impersonate a doctor.

"God only knows," said Dr. Carol Bernstein, associate professor of psychiatry at New York University Hospital. "What motivates someone to masquerade as someone else -- a doctor, a policeman, a fireman -- we don't know. It does depend on what is going on with that particular individual."

Court documents say that hospital video showed Ebert wheeling the woman out of the hospital.

Lt. Robert King of the Portland police said they are working closely with OHSU security police on the case. "We aren't weighing in on [the motivation] at all," King told ABC News.

Police said that Ebert claimed he was a "second year resident in plastic surgery," and in searching his home, they found three sets of doctor's scrubs. OHSU officials said Ebert had a vest with the hospital logo, an item that can be purchased at the facility's bookstore.

Ebert listed OHSU as his employer on his Facebook profile and showed an interest in "surgery" and "plastic surgery." He also said he had worked for Microsoft, a computer business and a porn production house, claims that police say are false.

Impersonating a doctor is not that common, but it does happen, according to NYU's Bernstein. "You do hear of people putting up a shingle and saying, 'I am a doctor.' That's why we have regulatory agencies to check."

Bernstein said impersonators can have any number of psychiatric conditions, including psychosis and severe personality disturbance. But they can also be con artists.

"It could also be someone playing around and conscious about what they are doing," she said.

Portland authorities said they have no idea what motivated Lucas Orlin Ebert.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Should Government Crack Down on Hookah Lounges?

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Jeff Burt has always enjoyed the smoothness and fruity flavors of a hookah's smoke. The 28-year-old has smoked shisha -- a flavored tobacco -- for several years in social settings with friends, but it's only in recent months that Burt has worried that his hookah consumption, usually combined with cigarettes and alcohol during a night out, is taking a toll on his body.

"I have been feeling worse and worse after I go out, drink a lot and smoke cigarettes and hookah, so I've been trying to cut down on the amount of that type of stuff I've been doing," said Burt.

Now, other hookah lovers may have to cut back on their shisha consumption, too, whether they want to or not. State lawmakers in Oregon, Connecticut and California are proposing to ban or limit hookah bars because of the health hazards associated with the smoking.

Rep. Carolyn Tomei, an Oregon state representative who sponsored a bill to limit new hookah lounges in Oregon, said her biggest concern is the health risk to young people.

"It's mostly very young people in hookah bars and that's who they appeal to," said Tomei. "Someone middle-aged doesn't start smoking; new smokers are young people. And most young people aren't aware of how dangerous it is."

Jack Henningfield, a drug and tobacco addiction expert at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution and a member of the World Health Organization Tobacco Product Regulation Study Group, agreed with Tomei, and said that even recreational use could turn into addiction.

"Proponents tend to describe infrequent use, but then that is how cigarette addiction and other disease typically start," said Henningfield. "Similar to cigarette smoking, many people escalate to more frequent use and higher levels of intake."

The Eastern Mediterranean device, which has been used in the region for several hundred years, has become a rising trend in the United States, particularly among young adults. Many people smoke shisha, because they believe it is a milder and safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, but experts say the truth is that it's as dangerous-- maybe even more -- than lighting up a cigarette.

A 2009 study conducted by Thomas Eissenberg, a professor of biopsychology and health psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, found that relative to cigarette smoking, hookah use is associated with greater carbon monoxide, nicotine and smoke exposure.

"People are inhaling charcoal smoke and the combustion product of sugar and flavoring, along with tobacco smoke," said Eissenberg. "Smoke from a hookah and cigarettes have the same poisons."

The tobacco is heated by charcoal. The water in the hookah then cools the smoke before it hits one's mouth, so inhaling the usually fruity-flavored smoke is much smoother than a cigarette. Because of this, many people who partake in the hookah believe that the water acts as a filter to the tobacco toxins, but experts say this is untrue.

Smoking from a hookah during a typical 45-minute session is equivalent to smoking about 100 cigarettes, Eissenberg said.

Moreover, hookah tobacco packages are usually labeled to contain .05 percent of nicotine and 0 percent tar.

"Many hookah lounge owners will say, 'Look, it doesn't have tar' and they'll point to the tobacco package," said Eissenberg. "The box is right, just as a cigarette does not contain tar. You have to burn tobacco to produce tar."

"There is a great deal of tar in hookah smoke," continued Eissenberg. "A person gets about 36 times the amount of tar in a hookah session compared to a cigarette."

Akhil, owner of La Sheesh Hookah Lounge in New Haven, Conn., declined to give his last name, but said he is happy to oblige any regulation that Connecticut lawmakers put into place. But Akhil did note that banning hookah lounges is different than the ban on smoking in public places.

"It's different in a hookah lounge, because a person's intentions are to go to smoke, which is different going to a bar or restaurant, where you could be exposed unfairly to a health hazard," said Akhil. "It's different if you know you're going to a place to smoke out of a hookah."

And as for frequenters of hookah lounges, the sudden ban or limitation to the popular bars may cause protest.

"The public can make their own decision about if they would like to smoke a hookah at a lounge," said Burt. "Hookah lounges are designated bars specifically targeted to people who like to smoke hookah. If you don't like smoking hookah, why would you enter a hookah bar?"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio