As long as transplants have been medically possible, there have been horror stories about the black market organ trade. Today, an anthropologist sheds the trappings of academia to take on, and even indict, illegal organ brokers. Plus, a less frightening example removing body parts – we’ll investigate the growing controversy behind men who shave, wax, or Nair their backs. And now, some hairy men are fighting back against a standard of beauty few of us even knew existed. Plus, the future is now – we investigate an algae powered building that actually works.
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Reduce, reuse, recycle? Not in the medical profession. While recycling has become the aspiration or even the norm in most areas of our daily lives, an operating room is the one place where recycling feels like a dangerous practice. Recent studies provide staggering statistics of the amount of waste produced by hospitals on a daily basis; one conservative estimate puts annual hospital waste at five point nine million tons, with operating rooms accounting for twenty to thirty percent of that total. In light of these numbers, there is a growing effort to bring sustainability into the health care sector while still maintaining the highest level of hygiene.
When it comes to sharing tough news with family members, or witnessing a patient’s final moments, knowledge of human anatomy and diseases is only so helpful. Abby Goodnough, writer for The New York Times, talked with us about the incredible opportunity that Martha Keochareon afforded medical students at Holyoke Community College. Martha, a nurse dying of pancreatic cancer, offered herself up to nursing students at Holyoke Community College as a case study in terminal illness. This is the conversation we had with Abby back in January.
The loudest and largest debate in health-care over these past few years has centered on coverage and how it ought or ought not to be extended to millions of uninsured Americans. But for some Americans, coverage isn’t the problem – the problem is getting doctors to agree on the diagnosis and treatment for baffling, or inconclusively researched conditions.
In this episode, Stephen Dubner focuses on an experimental procedure called the fecal transplant. This procedure is sort of combination of organ transplant and blood transfusion that may present a viable way to treat not only intestinal problems but also obesity and a number of neurological disorders. We'll talk to two doctors at the vanguard of this procedure and a patient who says it changed his life. Also: we've all heard our share of poignant and loving eulogies, but what if the deceased was a real jerk?