Tag Archives: survivors

Humboldt’s Graysen Cameron aims for psychology degree to help survivors like him

In the hours that followed the horrific Humboldt Broncos bus crash on the evening of April 6, 2018 and as the full scope of the tragedy was being realized, there was that photo — three young men on hospital beds holding hands.

Teammates Derek Patter, Nick Shumlanski and Graysen Cameron were clinging to one another.

In that moment they could have never known what was before them. But that scene, in those painful early days, was powerful.

Patter, a 20-year-old forward, suffered bleeding outside his brain, as well as right shin and fibula fractures, a nasal bone fracture and significant cuts and bruises.

Shumlanski, a 21-year-old forward, sustained a fractured bone behind his ear and a lumbar avulsion fracture but walked away from the crash.

Both were able to resume playing hockey the next season.

Cameron was wedged between Patter and Shumlanski wearing a neck brace. He suffered a broken back, concussion and eye injury — playing hockey again wasn’t even in the realm of consideration.

“I was obviously told I couldn’t play after breaking my back. I accepted the fact that I wouldn’t play again.” Cameron told CBC Sports this week.

But the 20-year-old from Olds, Alta. would play again. And is now on a path he thought had disappeared.

Graysen Cameron, centre, between teammates Derek Patter, left, and Nick Shumlanski in the hospital after the 2018 crash that left 16 people dead. (Twitter/rjpatter)

Cameron struggles to find the words to describe his recovery. His rehabilitation has been nothing short of remarkable. Seven months after breaking his back in April 2018 he underwent surgery to “remove some hardware” still left in his body — screws along his spine and steel rod.

“That’s when the doctor said I could get those out and it would be a possibility to play again,” Cameron said.

That flicker of hope fanned a burning desire deep within Cameron to keep moving forward and perhaps one day step back out onto the ice.

There were dark days to be sure. But it was in those still, quiet, searching moments he was getting clearer on how he wanted to live his life.

I would say the last year things have changed the most on how I look at life. Perspective is the big one.– Graysen Cameron on his recovery

“I think that’s when you learn the most about yourself. A lot of things I never thought I would deal with before. It was a big wake-up call for me,” Cameron said. “I would say the last year things have changed the most on how I look at life. Perspective is the big one. 

“You can always find ways to look at things negatively and you can always find ways to look at things positively.”

Just two months after that final surgery to remove all the steel from his body in November 2018, Cameron was walking. Cautious, slow, heavy steps. But it wasn’t long after that he was working out again.

Getting back into hockey, which seemed impossible, was now starting to come into focus.

“I didn’t want to get too excited about it in case it didn’t work out but inside I was ecstatic,” Cameron said.

Cameron started walking with ease, working out lightly and making his move back into the game.  

His first stop on the journey back was with his former Midget AAA team, the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. There, he spent a season as an assistant coach, every so often putting on the skates and working out with the team.

“It was awful. I was so out of shape,” Cameron said. “Once I got the go-ahead from the doctor to go full steam, the first two or three ice times were not so fun.”

WATCH | Cameron on the path to recovery:

Told he wouldn’t play hockey again after being injured in the 2018 bus crash, the 20-year-old played his final season as captain. 0:38

But the rush of being on the ice again, when he was resigned to never being able to lace up his skates for the rest of his life, was exhilarating. And it wasn’t long after that he got a sign it was time to return back to Humboldt.

One of the Broncos scouts, who was attending a game in Red Deer, planted the idea of Cameron returning to the team the next season. It was “game on” from that moment forward for Cameron.

“I think the best thing for me was being patient and not rushing things. That ultimately gave me a lot more confidence and lowered my expectations. I was alright with where I was at,” Cameron said.

Cameron spent last summer getting himself prepared to make a return to Humboldt to earn his spot on the team.

A year and a half after that unfathomable tragedy, a broken back, concussion and eye injury, he made his triumphant return — named captain of the Humboldt Broncos for his final season.

“I was where I wanted to be. It all came together. That’s when it hit me that I had accomplished something here,” Cameron said. “It was a really special moment.”

Cameron, left, returned to the Broncos this past season, assuming the role of captain with all its charitable duties. (Twitter/@humboldtmemgolf)

In 46 games, the six-foot winger contributed five goals and eight assists. There were some injuries throughout the season, something Cameron admits he was prepared for considering what he’d been through.

“That’s hockey. I was just happy to come back,” he said.

Cameron talks a lot of about how a hockey team is a family, something he knew prior to the crash but perhaps took somewhat for granted.

“That was the hardest part for me, not being around a team 24/7. That’s what all the guys miss when the seasons are over. I wanted to establish a tight team right away. That was something we did,” he said.

If there was one defining moment Cameron reflects on during his last season with the Broncos, it was a team meeting after a game in Nipawin the team had lost badly. Traveling back home on that same highway as the crash he thought a lot about what he wanted to say to his teammates.

“I opened up a little bit with the boys then and I think they respected it a lot,” he said. “I just told them a lot about what it means to be a teammate and what a family is like. What it’s like to be part of a winning team and a positive group. And not to take things for granted and enjoy it and enjoy each other because it doesn’t last forever.”

After returning to the Broncos, Cameron often passed the site of the deadly crash outside Tisdale, Sask. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

As the season wound down, Cameron started thinking about what his future in the sport and life might look like. He was being recruited by a number of Canadian and American universities but just like his return to hockey, he wasn’t putting any pressure on himself to rush into a decision.

He also wanted to make sure the educational path he was now seeking would be a fit.

“I feel like I’ve learned so many things over the last two years, if I can get that into words and go through my own thoughts and get a psychology degree, maybe I can make it easier on some other people who are also going through their own things,” Cameron said.

He wants to be a sports psychologist, so moved and inspired by what his therapist was able to help him through, now wanting to pay it forward.

“It sounds cliché and stupid but it’s a big part of it. Mental health is a big part of it. Talking to a therapist gets overlooked,” he said.

In the midst of his contemplation, a coach from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin started turning up the heat on recruiting Cameron.

Seamus Gregory, from Harbour Grace, Nfld., was hired as head coach of the program in 2014. He had seen Cameron play prior to the accident and put him on his team’s radar as a player he’d like to have in the future.

I told my wife I’ll be back in a week. Hopped in the truck. Drove to Weyburn. I texted Graysen and told him I was still interested.– Seamus Gregory, head coach at Northland College, on his recruiting trip.

“He’s hard on the puck. Good two-way player,” Gregory told CBC Sports. “His compete level is off the charts.”

Northland College is a small school with only about 600 students. LumberJacks hockey is an NCAA Division III program. Gregory knew that the tight-knit, family atmosphere could be appealing to Cameron. He planted the seed of having Cameron join their team in January during a recruiting trip.

“As the season progressed, I gave him my card. I kept talking to him and texting him,” Gregory said. “He’s a tremendous leader.”

The two kept in contact but Gregory didn’t want to push Cameron too hard with the playoffs starting up for the Broncos. His team had been eliminated after a challenging season.

Then, one morning in February, Gregory woke up and felt compelled to jump in his truck and drive 17 hours from Ashland to Humboldt to meet with Cameron.

Seamus Gregory, head coach of the Northland College Lumberjacks, drove 17 hours from Wisconsin to convince Cameron to attend the school. (Robert Gross, Northland Marketing)

“I told my wife I’ll be back in a week. Hopped in the truck. Drove to Weyburn. Watched a couple games and then got a hotel in Humboldt,” Gregory said. “I texted Graysen and told him I was still interested. Told him lunch would be great.”

On a cold, prairie winter afternoon in February, Gregory, Cameron and Broncos head coach Scott Barney met at a Boston Pizza in Humboldt.

“We just had an immediate connection,” Gregory said.

A feeling shared by Cameron.

“Seamus tried doing everything he could to make me feel comfortable,” he said. “I think we think the same way about a lot of things. Especially with how tight and family-like his team was last season.”

Last Saturday, on April 25, Cameron phoned Gregory. He told his future coach he was committing to the program.

“It was always Northland from the start in my head. It’s the best fit for me by far,” Cameron said. “It’ll be a different experience. I haven’t been a student for three years. It’ll be a shock but I’m ready for it. I’m just happy to get a nice change.”

Gregory, who had doubts about whether Cameron would join his team, was elated to receive that phone call.

“It was a beautiful day. I was outside with my three daughters. He talked to me about his life and where he wanted to go and what he wants to study and that he wanted to come play for me,” Gregory said.

“I got goosebumps.”

More than anything, Gregory says Cameron will make an immediate impact in the locker room leading his young team.

“He’s going to demand respect when he walks through the locker room. We need him. We need him in our locker room,” Gregory said.

“Graysen brings hope and inspiration to our little community.”

Northland College is located in Asheland, Wisconsin, on the western tip of Lake Superior. (Robert Gross, Northland Marketing)

It signals a new beginning for Cameron, a fresh start he says he so badly needs. The past two years have taken its toll on the young man from Alberta, the weight of it all sometimes too much.

“Not having as much of that pressure. I knew it was part of it, but it’ll be nice to have a change,” he said. “My last year was a little stressful at times.”

He doesn’t want that to be misinterpreted, that he’s somehow turning his back on the Broncos and everything he went through in the Saskatchewan community. That team, that experience, his “brothers” will always be with him.

“I’m always playing for those guys. I went back for me but I’m playing for them,” he said.

Cameron’s No. 9 is now retired by the Humboldt Broncos, alongside his former teammates up in the rafters of the Elgar Peterson Arena.

“It’s a huge honour. I never thought I’d have my jersey retired anywhere. It’s nice to know that those banners are there forever next to my brothers,” Cameron said.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Sports News

How 3D holograms and AI are preserving Holocaust survivors’ stories

Max Eisen, 90, has lived his life by stubbornly looking ahead.

He survived losing his mother and siblings in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, and survived the camp himself, by focusing on getting through each day one hour at a time. He survived a 13-day death march by willing himself to keep moving his body forward a step at a time. He emigrated to Canada and started a business and a family by refusing to look back at what he’d lost.

Last month, though, he spent five full days in a studio in Los Angeles not only looking back, but going over every minute detail of his life for an high-tech project that will preserve his voice long after he’s gone.

“I thought this was a very powerful tool, it was important,” Eisen says.

The tool Eisen is referring to is the New Dimensions in Testimony Program.

  • WATCH | The National’s story about the New Dimensions in Testimony Program on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 9 p.m. ET on CBC News Network and 10 p.m. local time on your CBC television station. You can also catch The National online on CBC Gem.

It’s part of Steven Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation, which the director founded after making the film Schindler’s List. For the past 25 years, the foundation has been recording the testimonies of survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides. 

This new project, however, goes much further than simple recordings.

Interactive hologram

Max Eisen, left, interacts with a the archived recording of fellow Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter, as a technician looks on. (Perlita Stroh/CBC)

Using proprietary technology, the USC initiative employs machine learning and artificial intelligence to create holograms of survivors’ stories that audiences will be able to interact with and question for years to come.

Eisen is the 25th person and the first Canadian to undergo the process, after another Canadian, Pinchas Gutter, piloted an earlier and less-polished version of it several years ago.

The process starts on a Monday morning and goes straight through until Friday afternoon. Eisen, like others before him, has to sit in a chair in the same position and wearing the same clothes while a USC Shoah Foundation staff member peppers him with hundreds of questions about his life and experiences during the holocaust.

The two are sitting in a specially constructed tent of green screens and surrounded by 26 mounted cameras that capture Eisen’s responses from every angle.

Max Eisen, who recently participated in a program that will turn his Holocaust testimony into an interactive hologram, tells The National’s Ioanna Roumeliotis what it’s like to have his memories digitally immortalized. 0:23

After the week of filming, the USC team begins the arduous editing process. They transform Eisen’s week-long interview into an interactive hologram.

The finished hologram will work with technology that allows users to ask it any question they want. The system will recognize words in the question and match it with an answer in its database in real time. Children and adults will essentially be talking to a person on a screen, who will look like they’re listening to them and answering the questions in real time.

“When I first saw this, I sort of thought it was kind of eerie and this meant the end of life — you’re only on a wall there hanging down now,” Eisen says.

“But I’ve sort of come to realize this is a new technology and it could do a very big, important job.”

Max Eisen, a Canadian, is the 25th person to take part in a USC Shoah Foundation program that is digitally archiving the stories of holocaust survivors. He shows The National’s Ioanna Roumeliotis another survivor’s completed hologram. 0:33

Quest to preserve the past

For Eisen, participation in the New Dimensions Program is just the latest part of his personal quest to educate others about the horrors of the Holocaust. 

For the past two decades, he has been giving speeches in schools and at community gatherings. He’s returned to Poland many times with The March of the Living, a group that takes Jewish teenagers and adults on tours of concentration camps and ghettos in Poland.

He agreed to start talking about his past only after retiring from his business in 1991. It was his granddaughter who first started questioning him about it when she began learning about the Holocaust in school. 

“I made up my mind then that I’m going to do this, I have to talk about it,” he says. “I did promise my father that I would tell the world what happened there, so it was time.”

Max Eisen holds a photo of his family, taken before they were transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

Eisen’s mother and siblings were killed upon their arrival at the Auschwitz concentration camp in May 1944. He lost his father a few months after they arrived. 

For months, he and his father had suffered on a gruelling work detail, often labouring for 10 to 12 hours a day and surviving on very little food. After his father was selected for medical experiments, Eisen never saw him again.

Eisen credits his own survival to the mercy of the camp’s surgeon, a Polish prisoner himself, after he was badly beaten by an SS officer. The surgeon kept Eisen in his clinic and put him to work as his assistant after he recovered from his injuries, sparing him any further labour.

“Of my entire family, over 70 people, I was one of three to survive,” Eisen says, 

Once he started opening up about his experiences in the Holocaust, Eisen has never stopped. His memoir, By Chance Alone, was published in 2016 and was the winner of 2019’s CBC Canada Reads Competition.

Canada Reads trailer for By Chance Alone by Max Eisen. 0:44

The endeavour, spreading the truth about what happened to him and those around him during the Holocaust, has now become his full time job.

“This is actually my career now,” says Eisen. “I was in business and I closed that book and I opened this book. And all these opportunities are just coming now and I don’t refuse anybody.”

His determination to educate as many people as possible about the Holocaust and the dangers of anti-Semitism is something he thinks is still relevant.

This was reinforced when an image of him in front of synagogue promoting Holocaust education in 2018 was defaced with the German word “achtung,” which translates to “attention” — a word Eisen vividly remembers guards yelling at the prisoners in Auschwitz.

Max Eisen’s image was defaced outside Beth Jacob Synagogue in Toronto in July 2018. (Canadian Jewish News/Twitter)

Eisen admits reliving his past hasn’t gotten easier, but says the work is too important for him to stop — and the feedback he gets from students keeps him going.

“They keep telling me, you know, ‘I’ve been a principal in this school for 25 years, I’ve seen these students, they have a span of attention of 15 minutes, and they were sitting here for an hour and a half and they didn’t blink an eyelash.’ That’s rewarding,” says Eisen.

This year’s winner of CBC’s Canada Reads is Max Eisen’s book, By Chance Alone. It tells the story of his experience as a 15 year old in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Eisen has made it his mission to talk about the holocaust and educate students about where intolerance can lead. 9:37

Gruelling interview process

Kia Hayes, from the USC Foundation, has been tasked with interviewing Eisen for the New Dimensions project. She and her team spent months researching every aspect of his past, a process that culminated in more than 1,000 questions for him.

She says knowing Eisen could handle the gruelling interview process is why they selected him for the project.

“It’s not just that the survivor can physically can sit for the five hours a day, five days a week, to tell their story. It’s also, mentally and emotionally, are they able to? Do they want to? Do they feel comfortable sharing?,” says Hayes.

“We want to know that we’re not overburdening them with the amount of questions that we’re asking, and that’s really important to us.”

USC Foundation project manager Kia Hayes conducted the on-camera interviews with Max Eisen. (Perlita Stroh/CBC)

The types of questions Hayes asks Eisen are interesting, too.

Beyond questions about his childhood and wartime experience, her team has to think of what a child without much knowledge of history might ask of a Holocaust survivor in the future. So, questions like ‘Have you met Hitler?’ and ‘Do you hate Germans?’ are included, because of the fact that children are likely to ask them.

“They [children] are curious. They want to know things like that. So we need to make sure the questions we’re building out include that level of curiosity,” explains Hayes. 

And Eisen is more than willing to answer all of those questions. He says it’s essential that the stories of Holocaust survivors do not die with them, and the interactive holograms help keep the stories alive for future generations.

Max Eisen’s interviews were captured by 26 separate cameras to record him from every angle. (Perlita Stroh/CBC)

“It’s amazing, who would’ve thought something like this would be possible?”

Eisen’s interactive hologram is now in the editing stage and will be ready to be installed in museums and travel to schools in about a year’s time. He says the experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity to preserve his legacy.

“That’s why I keep doing this, and moving, and going, and talking. And this is what other survivors are doing — when we are no longer going to be here, there’s got to be some other tools that these students and next generations will need to hear and see.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | World News

Cancer survivors face dilemma over banned breast implants linked to rare lymphoma

Dona Murphy was finally feeling relieved. Eight years after being diagnosed with breast cancer and having a mastectomy, her oncologist declared her cancer-free.

Then in November, she received a couriered letter from the hospital where she had her surgery, delivering some shocking news: The breast implant used during her reconstruction was now banned by Health Canada.

Last May, Health Canada pulled a type of textured breast implant off the market, following a joint investigation by CBC News, Radio-Canada, the Toronto Star and the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The product — specifically macro-textured Biocell implants, made by Allergan — has been linked to a rare form of lymphoma known as breast-implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL.

Health Canada says it’s a “serious but rare type of lymphoma,” with the agency pegging the risk of BIA-ALCL at one in 3,565 (0.03%) for the Biocell implants. In Canada, more than 30 women have been diagnosed with BIA-ALCL.

Dona Murphy reads a letter from the hospital where she underwent a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer; it informed her that the implant used in the surgery has since been banned by Health Canada. (CBC)

Regulators in both Canada and the U.S. don’t recommend that women with the implants have them removed because the cancer is so rare. But they say women should check with their doctor if they have any symptoms, which include pain and swelling.

Paying for peace of mind?

While Murphy has no symptoms from her textured implant, she wants the device removed from her body. But the Ontario government has said that if the implant doesn’t affect her health, it’s up to her to pay to have it taken out.

“I can’t imagine why any woman would want to have it in them if there’s a potential — no matter how small — of causing cancer,” she said.

Patricia Mailman has two textured implants, put in after undergoing a double mastectomy in Halifax as part of her cancer treatment. When she found out about the ban, she too immediately wanted her implants replaced with non-textured ones.

She doesn’t have $ 10,000 needed to pay a plastic surgeon to have the explant done, she said, so she’s on a waiting list to have the Nova Scotia government pay, because the implants are causing her pain.

“We didn’t ask for the cancer in the first place, so we didn’t really ask for this either,” Mailman said.

Patricia Mailman had textured implants put in years ago after a double mastectomy. (CBC)

Textured breast implants were used in thousands of procedures in Canada beginning in 2006, with the pebble-like surface intended to act as a kind of Velcro, preventing the implant from sliding on the chest well.

The medical community started linking some breast implants to cancer in 2011.

BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer, but rather lymphoma that grows in the scar tissue surrounding the breast. It grows slowly and can usually be successfully treated by surgically removing the implants.

Risks involved with removal

Dr. Michael Weinberg, a plastic surgeon in Toronto, estimates he’s implanted about 100 pairs of textured implants. Now because of the ban, he says some of his former patients are scared, worried and asking for his advice.

“They are very emotional and I completely understand how they feel really badly,” he said.

Weinberg cautions that removing implants is a significant operation, both in terms of medical risks, as well as cosmetically.

The risks of implant removal include:

  • Infection.
  • Bleeding.
  • Scarring.

“You can’t guarantee when the implant is under the muscle that you’ll be able to take the whole capsule out,” said Weinberg, or the surrounding scar tissue that can stick to the ribs.

Still, for some women, the thought of possibly developing cancer is a worse risk.

Murphy is scheduled to have her implant removed in March, paying for it out of her own pocket. But, she points out, that’s something a lot of women can’t afford to do.

Cancer survivors are faced with difficult decisions months after textured implants were banned because of a rare cancer risk. The women must decide if the risks and costs of having implants removed outweigh the risk of leaving them in. 2:19

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Health News

Ebola survivors might not be immune to reinfection, prompting concerns over care

The World Health Organization and Congolese authorities are proposing changes to how some Ebola patients are cared for, new guidelines show, after a patient’s death challenged the accepted medical theory that survivors are immune to reinfection.

There are many unanswered questions surrounding the circumstances of the woman’s death in Congo, which has not previously been reported.

But it has raised concerns because the woman, whose name has not been released for confidentiality reasons, was thought to have had immunity after surviving infection, but fell ill again with Ebola and died.

“That was a big red flag event for all of us,” said Janet Diaz, who leads the World Health Organization’s clinical management team for the epidemic in Congo.

Congo’s Ebola outbreak has infected over 3,000 people and killed more than 2,000 since August last year. It is the second-worst outbreak after one in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 that killed more than 11,000 people.

The woman was working as a caregiver in the high-risk “red zone” of a treatment centre in Beni, eastern Congo, according to health officials familiar with her case.

She was one of dozens of people assigned to care for Ebola patients because it was assumed they would not get sick as Ebola survivors, although some researchers have considered reinfection to be at least a theoretical possibility.

Their presumed immunity allowed for closer contact with sufferers, many of them children.

Alima, the medical charity that co-ran the Beni centre where she worked, said she tested positive for Ebola and died in July before she could be readmitted for treatment.

But it is not yet known whether the woman received a false positive result the first time she was tested, experienced a relapse or was reinfected, health officials say.

Medical experts say it could be years before Ebola survivors’ immunity is fully understood. Yet the recent case is sufficiently worrying for health authorities to rethink how care should be provided to Ebola patients across eastern Congo.

A health worker carries a four-day-old baby suspected of having Ebola, into a Doctors Without Borders supported Ebola Treatment Centre in November 2018 in Butembo, Congo. New protocols would set limits on which Ebola survivors can work in treatment centres and standardize precautions that must be taken. (John Wessels/AFP/Getty Images)

The WHO and Congolese officials have drafted new guidelines, seen by Reuters, that warn that some Ebola survivors may have “incomplete immunity” and advise that additional measures should be taken to protect them from possible reinfection.

The new protocols would set limits on which Ebola survivors can work in treatment centres and standardize precautions that must be taken.

Survivors who had mild cases of Ebola and those who were found to have low viral loads — or lower levels of the virus circulating in their blood — while infected “need to be carefully assessed, as they may be at risk for having incomplete immunity after infection,” the draft says.

Diaz said the protocols were still being discussed with health organizations and could change in the drafting process.

True immunity questions

Efforts to contain the Congo outbreak have been hampered by militia violence and public mistrust, but aided by medical advances including new vaccines and therapies.

Ebola survivors, known as “les vainqueurs” — French for “the victorious” — have been at the forefront of treatment, offering vital care, especially to children.

Their assumed immunity has meant they could spend extended time with patients and provide much-needed human contact. The protective gear they must wear is lighter and less restrictive than that worn by other health workers.

But the draft protocols being discussed by health authorities would bar some survivors from working in the contaminated red zone.

These include people whose immune systems may be weaker because they are pregnant or because they have other infections such as HIV or tuberculosis, and those who had low viral loads during their Ebola infection.

The woman who died was pregnant at the time, which she had not disclosed to the treatment centre, according to Nicolas Mouly, Alima’s emergencies coordinator. But it is not known if that played a role in her falling sick again.

Mouly said Congo’s biomedical research institute was running tests to learn more about the case. Officials with Congo’s Ebola response and the institute did not respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment.

In response to the case, health authorities have reviewed the clinical histories of all Ebola survivors working with Ebola patients, the WHO’s Diaz said. They have also reminded treatment centres to ensure their employees are following biosafety rules.

No confirmed reinfection

Much remains unknown about how immunity works in Ebola survivors, including how treatments might affect a patient’s susceptibility to reinfection.

“I think that’s the big question: What is the true immunity of an Ebola patient who survived?” Diaz said. “Everyone’s working very hard right now to both care for patients and also move science along.”

There have been several confirmed cases of relapse with Ebola, including a Scottish nurse who was infected in Sierra Leone in 2014 and fell ill again 10 months after recovery.

But the symptoms have tended to be localized in certain parts of the body and are not known to have been fatal, according to Raina MacIntyre, who heads the Biosecurity Program at the University of New South Wales’ Kirby Institute.

No case of reinfection has been confirmed since the disease was discovered near the Ebola River in northern Congo in 1976.

Short-term immunity has largely been treated as a given. And a study of 14 survivors of the first documented Ebola outbreak in 1976 found that all were able to develop an immune reaction to at least one of three Ebola virus proteins 40 years later.

Alima’s Mouly said the creation of a standardized set of rules for survivors working in treatment centres was a positive step, but recommended further measures to ensure the physical and mental well-being of all survivors.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Health News

New McMaster study could change how doctors treat heart attack survivors

A new study from McMaster University in Hamilton offers some advice for doctors poking around the heart to reopen a clogged artery that has caused one type of heart attack: Come back again to finish the job.

The study found that when doctors also open other arteries that are dangerously narrow — either while the patient is still hospitalized or after a month or so — those patients are half as likely to die from heart problems, have a heart attack or need repeat surgery due to chest pain than patients given conventional medical therapy.

The results of the study, known as COMPLETE, are likely to transform the way some heart attack patients are treated, specifically when doctors stumble upon other narrowed heart arteries likely to cause a future heart attack, chief author Dr. Shamir Mehta, director of interventional cardiology at McMaster University in Ontario, told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.

The benefit “is very clear,” he said. The will result in “a sweeping change in practice across the world. It helps us solidify how patients with multi-vessel disease should be treated.”

The findings also show that doctors don’t have to do the second procedure immediately; patients can be brought back to the hospital up to 45 days later to have the remaining narrowed arteries reopened with stents.

“When the patient is in the throes of a major heart attack, there’s no need to rush in and do a second procedure and put the patient at risk,” said Dr. Mehta. “You can do it the next day if the patient is stabilized and there are no other medical issues. But if they’re frail or have kidney disease, you may want to give them time to recover.”

The findings apply to 30 per cent of heart attacks

The team, which reported its findings Sunday at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris and online in The New England Journal of Medicine, calculated that for every 13 patients given the more-aggressive therapy, one heart-related death, heart attack or repeat surgery would be prevented over the course of three years.

The question of whether doctors should also open up the narrowed arteries they find while unclogging an artery that is causing a heart attack has been debated for years. 

In the COMPLETE study, when doctors only fixed the clogged artery, the incidence of bad outcomes at the three-year mark was 16.7 per cent among 2,025 volunteers. But when doctors returned and reopened narrowed arteries that might cause problems in the future, the rate dropped to 8.9 per cent for the 2,016 patients in that group.

Both groups of patients had roughly the same risk of major bleeding, stroke, kidney injury or having a clot appear in a stent.

“This is really a compelling result,” said Dr. Gregg Fonarow of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who was not involved in the research. “I think this will be embraced and taken into clinical practice across the world.”

The study showed that the follow-up procedure is safe and works if done within the 45-day window , which “opens the door to maximal flexibility,” he said.

The findings only apply to a type of heart attack known as an ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, which accounts for about 30 per cent of heart attacks, said Dr. Fonarow.

In those patients, another narrowed artery is discovered in about half the cases, which would make them eligible for the follow-up stenting.

The volunteers were treated at 140 centers in 31 countries. All received standard non-surgical therapy.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Health News

Alex Trebek Says ‘We Will Beat Cancer’ While Joining Cancer Survivors at Los Angeles Event

Alex Trebek Says ‘We Will Beat Cancer’ While Joining Cancer Survivors at Los Angeles Event | Entertainment Tonight

Let’s block ads! (Why?)


Using their immunity, Ebola survivors play special role in Congo outbreak

Wearing a disposable gown and gloves for protection, Jeanine Masika cradles a two-year-old Ebola patient and offers the listless toddler teaspoons of brown soup.

Most health-care workers need a surgical mask, goggles, hooded coveralls, an apron, rubber boots and two pairs of gloves to avoid catching the virus that typically kills around half those it infects.

The outfits are hot, and in the stifling tropical temperatures of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, this limits the time they can spend with patients fighting for their lives in isolation units.

But Masika has antibodies in her system after she won her own battle against Ebola last year, and she now has immunity.

The 33-year-old mother of six can spend entire days with patients at a treatment centre in the North Kivu town of Beni, offering a comforting presence among a crowd of faceless figures with names written on their suits with markers.

Medical staff and an Ebola survivor, who doesn’t need to wear the same protective gear, treat Ebola patient Ibrahim Mupalalo inside the Biosecure Emergency Care Unit at an Ebola treatment centre in Beni, Congo. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Masika is one of dozens of survivors who are providing care — and much-needed human contact — to some of the littlest victims of the second-worst Ebola epidemic on record.

Of the more than 1,260 confirmed and probable Ebola cases in the current outbreak, 28 per cent are children, according to figures from the World Health Organization. More than 800 people, including at least 248 under the age of 18, have died since the outbreak began in August.

The outbreak is surpassed only by one in West Africa in 2013-16, which is believed to have killed more than 11,000 people.

Fighting back

Masika lost 10 relatives to the virus; four of those infected in her family survived.

“It was as if Ebola had chosen my family,” she said.

She was admitted to the same treatment centre where she now works last September and stayed there for 21 days, battling horrific symptoms.

“It’s like suffering from all the diseases of Congo at the same time,” she said. “I felt bad all over my body: headache, stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, tiredness.”

Masika’s experience inspired her to join the fight against Ebola, comforting sick and frightened children who have to be isolated from their families and familiar surroundings to avoid infecting others. She is one of at least 23 former patients employed at the center in Beni, which is run by the Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA).

When Reuters visited in late March, Masika was spending most of her time in a clear plastic isolation cube. She rocked and fanned Furaha, a little girl who rarely stirred or cried. The cubes allow patients to see relatives during treatment, albeit through thick plastic walls.

A health worker measures the temperature of a man entering an Ebola treatment centre in Beni, Congo, earlier this month. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

When the needle attached to Furaha’s intravenous drip had to be replaced, Masika gently lifted the girl and carried her to the back of the cube so a medic in full protective gear could find a new vein. Furaha slipped a skinny arm around Masika’s neck and leaned her head against the woman for support.

“My goal is to make her happy,” Masika said of her small charge, the youngest of five family members who were being treated at the centre. “I treat the child like she’s my own, so she’s at ease even while she’s away from her parents.”

Children especially at risk

Children are especially vulnerable to the virus because their bodies are less able to cope with the extreme fluid loss caused by diarrhea, vomiting, fever and bleeding, doctors say.

More than two out of every three children sickened in this outbreak have died, according to WHO figures. Others were orphaned or left on their own when their parents went into treatment.

Claudine Kitsa, 40, had to place a child in care while she was being treated for Ebola in the nearby trading hub of Butembo. She now does shifts at a childcare facility operated by the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF, taking turns with other survivors to sleep next to the babies’ cots on mosquito-netted beds.

On a recent morning, she strolled around a yard of hard-packed earth, rocking seven-month-old Christvie in her arms. Baby clothes were hung up to dry on the fence of the single-story compound, which had been freshly decorated in cartoon murals.

Christvie’s mother had recently died of Ebola, and staff were closely monitoring the baby to see if she would fall sick.

For Kitsa, volunteering at the centre is a “way of keeping love alive,” at a time when Ebola is robbing families of the ability to care for their loved ones.

Healthcare workers say people like her play an invaluable role.

“We can’t be caring for children all of the time, because you can only wear PPE [personal protective equipment] for one hour at a time. And it would scare… children,” said Trish Newport, the Ebola representative for the humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières in Congo’s eastern city of Goma.

“So to have survivors who can wear light protection and be with the children and bond with them, it’s huge for us.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Health News

No survivors as Ethiopian Airlines flight crashes with 157 people on board

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet to Nairobi crashed early Sunday with 149 passengers and eight crew members aboard, and there were no survivors, the airline said.

Ethiopia's state broadcaster says the plane was carrying passengers from 33 countries.

Ethiopian Airlines said those killed included 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Americans, eight Chinese and eight Italians. Other victims were from India, Britain, the Netherlands, France, Egypt and several other countries.

Flight ET 302 crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometres southeast of the capital Addis Ababa, the airline said, confirming the plane was a Boeing 737-800 MAX, registration number ET-AVJ.

The flight left Bole airport in Addis Ababa at 8:38 a.m. local time, before losing contact with the control tower just a few minutes later at 8:44 a.m.

Tewolde GebreMariam, the airline's chief executive officer, said the pilot reported difficulties and asked for permission to turn back.

The prime minister's office sent condolences via Twitter to the families of those lost in the crash, without offering further details.

The plane crashed near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa. (Tiksa Negeri/Reuters )

State-owned Ethiopian is one of the biggest carriers on the continent by fleet size. It said previously that it expected to carry 10.6 million passengers last year.

Its last major crash was in January 2010, when a flight from Beirut went down shortly after takeoff.

Records show that the Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane that crashed on Sunday was a new one.

There were no immediate details on what caused the crash of the Boeing 737, some 50 kilometres south of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. (Associated Press/file photo)

The Planespotters civil aviation database shows the Boeing 737-8 MAX was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in mid-November.

The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines calls itself Africa's largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | World News

Rescuers comb rubble of Florida beach communities for Hurricane Michael survivors

Rescuers will pick through the rubble of ravaged beach communities searching for survivors on Friday after Michael, one of the most powerful hurricanes in U.S. history, slammed into the Florida Panhandle, killing at least seven people.

Michael struck Florida's northwest coast near the small town of Mexico Beach on Wednesday afternoon with top sustained winds of 250 km/h, pushing a wall of seawater inland and causing widespread flooding.

The interior of a Family Dollar Store that had the storefront ripped off is seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Millville, Fla. The storm tore entire neighbourhoods apart, reducing homes and businesses to piles of wood. (Emily Kask/AFP/Getty Images)

The storm tore entire neighbourhoods apart, reducing homes and businesses to piles of wood and siding, damaging roads and leaving scenes of devastation that resembled the aftermath of a carpet-bombing operation.

U.S. Army personnel used heavy equipment to push a path through debris in Mexico Beach to allow rescuers through to search for trapped residents, survivors or casualties, as Blackhawk helicopters circled overhead. Rescuers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) used dogs, drones and GPS in the search.

1,000 homes destroyed in Port St. Joe

"We prepare for the worst and hope for the best. This is obviously the worst," said Stephanie Palmer, a FEMA firefighter and rescuer from Coral Springs, Fla.

Much of downtown Port St. Joe, 19 kilometres east of Mexico Beach, was flooded after Michael snapped boats in two and hurled a large ship onto the shore, residents said.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott points out some damage caused by Hurricane Michael while flying over the Florida Panhandle Thursday. Michael was the third strongest storm on record to hit the continental United States. (Chris O'Meara/Associated Press)

"We had houses that were on one side of the street and now they're on the other," said Mayor Bo Patterson, who watched trees fly by his window as he rode out the storm in his home seven blocks from the beach.

Patterson estimated 1,000 homes were completely or partially destroyed in his town of 3,500 people.

'This one kicked our butt'

Jordon Tood, 31, a charter boat captain in Port St. Joe, said: "There were mandatory evacuation orders, but only idiots like us stuck around."

"This was my sixth [hurricane], so I thought I was prepared," he said.

Boats are pictured ashore following Hurricane Michael in Port St. Joe, Fla. At least seven people were killed by the storm. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

In Apalachicola, about 48 kilometres east of where the storm made landfall, a little less than half of the 2,200 people stayed and rode out the storm, residents said.

"I've never seen anything like this craziness," said Tamara's café owner Danny Itzkovitz, 54, as he was busy grilling burgers. "We've had storms before — in '05 we had four or five in a row. I didn't even take the boards off my window. But, holy smokes, this one kicked our butt."

Checking door to door

The storm peeled back part of the gym roof and tore off a wall at Jinks Middle School in Panama City. A year ago, the school welcomed students and families displaced by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

"I have had employees going to the communities where our kids live, going door to door and checking," Principal Britt Smith said by phone. "I have been up since 3:30 or 4 a.m. emailing and checking on staff to see if they are safe. So far, everybody seems to be very safe."

An American flag flies amongst rubble left in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla. Almost 1.2 million homes and businesses were without power Thursday because of the storm. (Jonathan Bachman/Reuters)

With a low barometric pressure recorded at 919 millibars, a measure of a hurricane's force, Michael was the third strongest storm on record to hit the continental United States, behind only Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the Labour Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys.

It weakened overnight to a tropical storm.

7 killed

Fast-moving Michael, a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale when it came ashore, was about 25 kilometres northeast of Norfolk, Va, at 10 p.m. ET, with top sustained winds of 80 km/h as it headed for the Atlantic coast, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

It was toppling trees and bringing life-threatening flash flooding to areas of Georgia and Virginia, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence, as it marched northeast.

Watch aerial footage of damage caused in Florida by Hurricane Michael:

Watch aerial footage of damage caused in Florida from Hurricane Michael's direct hit. 1:20

At least seven people were killed by falling trees and other hurricane-related incidents in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, according to state officials.

Emergency services carried out dozens of rescues of people caught in swiftly moving floodwaters in North Carolina.

Up to 20,000 in shelters

Many of the injured in Florida were taken to hard-hit Panama City, 32 kilometres northwest of Mexico Beach.

Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center treated some but the hospital evacuated 130 patients as it faced challenges running on generators after the storm knocked out power, ripped off part of its roof and smashed windows, according to a spokesperson for the hospital's owner, HCA Healthcare Inc.

Almost 1.2 million homes and businesses were without power from Florida to Virginia on Thursday because of the storm.

The number of people in emergency shelters was expected to swell to 20,000 across five states by Friday, said Brad Kieserman of the American Red Cross.

Brad Rippey, a meteorologist for the U.S. Agriculture Department, said Michael severely damaged cotton, timber, pecan and peanut crops, causing estimated liabilities as high as $ 1.9 billion US and affecting up to 1.5 million crop hectares.

Michael also disrupted energy operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico as it approached land, cutting crude oil production by more than 40 per cent and natural gas output by nearly a third as offshore platforms were evacuated.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | World News

Indonesia quake and tsunami death toll hits 1,200 as search for survivors goes on

Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered more rescuers to be sent in to find victims of a devastating earthquake and tsunami on Tuesday as the official death toll rose above 1,200 and looting raised fears of growing lawlessness.

Most of the dead have been from the small city of Palu, 1,500 kilometres northeast of Jakarta, but some remote areas have been cut off since Friday's 7.5 magnitude quake triggered tsunami waves, leading to fears the toll could soar.

"There are some main priorities that we must tackle and the first is to evacuate, find and save victims who've not yet been found," Widodo told a government meeting to co-ordinate disaster recovery efforts on the west coast of Sulawesi island.

See the devastation on Sulawesi island:

Watch scenes of devastation wrought by Friday's earthquake and tsunami on Indonesia's Sulawesi island. 0:55

He said he had ordered the national search and rescue agency to send more police and soldiers into the affected districts, some cut off by destroyed roads, landslides and downed bridges.

The official death toll surged to 1,234, the national disaster agency said.

The Red Cross said the situation was "nightmarish" and reports from its workers venturing into one cut-off area, Donggala, a region of 300,000 people north of Palu and close to the epicentre, indicated it had been hit "extremely hard."

Four badly hit districts have a combined population of about 1.4 million.

Neighbourhoods engulfed

In Palu, tsunami waves as high as six metres smashed into the beachfront, while hotels and shopping malls collapsed in ruins and some neighbourhoods were swallowed up by ground liquefaction.

Among those killed were 34 children at a Christian bible study camp, a Red Cross official said.

A makeshift camp has been set up in a field near a mosque in Palu. Desperation was evident across Palu, a city of more than 380,000 people that was hard-hit by both the twin disasters that struck the inlet. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

The government has ordered aid supplies to be airlifted in but there's little sign of help on Palu's shattered streets and survivors appeared increasingly desperate.

A Reuters news team saw a shop cleared by about 100 people, shouting, scrambling and fighting each other for items including clothes, toiletries, blankets and water.

Many people grabbed diapers while one man clutched a rice cooker as he headed for the door. Non-essential goods were scattered on the floor amid shards of broken glass.

At least 20 police were at the scene but did not intervene. The government has played down fears of looting saying disaster victims could take essential goods and shops would be compensated later.

It's OK if he's buried in the mass grave, it's better to have him buried fast.– Local resident Rosmawati Binti Yahya ,  speaking about her late husband

Indonesia is all too familiar with earthquakes and tsunamis. A quake in 2004 triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

It has said it would accept offers of international aid, having shunned outside help earlier this year when an earthquake struck the island of Lombok.

'Survivors trapped'

Rescuers in Palu held out hope they could still save lives.

"We suspect there are still some survivors trapped inside," the head of one rescue team, Agus Haryono, told Reuters at the collapsed seven-story Hotel Roa Roa.

About 50 people were believed to have been caught inside the hotel when it was brought down. About nine bodies have been recovered from the ruins and three rescued alive.

An earth remover works to clear debris from the collapsed Roa Roa hotel in Palu. Dozens are believed to be trapped inside. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Haryono pored over the hotel's blueprints, searching for possible pockets and a way through to them. A faint smell of decomposition hung in the air.

Power has yet to be restored and aftershocks have rattled jangled nerves.

A particular horror in several areas in and around Palu was liquefaction, which happens when soil shaken by an earthquake behaves like a liquid.

About 1,700 houses in one neighborhood were swallowed up, with hundreds of people believed buried, the national disaster agency said.

Before-and-after satellite pictures show a largely built-up neighbourhood just south of Palu's airport seemingly wiped clean of all signs of life by liquefaction.

Burying the dead

Elsewhere, on the outskirts of Palu, lorries brought 54 bodies to a mass grave dug in sandy soil.

Most of the bodies had not been claimed, a policeman said, but some relatives turned up to pay respects to loved ones at the 50-metre trench, where the smell of decomposition was overpowering.

"It's OK if he's buried in the mass grave, it's better to have him buried fast," said Rosmawati Binti Yahya, 52, whose husband was among those placed in the grave, before heading off to look for her missing daughter.

More than 65,000 homes were damaged and more than 60,000 people have been displaced and are in need of emergency help, while thousands have been streaming out of stricken areas.

Commercial airlines have struggled to restore operations at Palu's damaged airport but military aircraft have taken some survivors out.

But thousands of people have been thronging the airport hoping for any flight out, and authorities have said a navy vessel capable of taking 1,000 people at a time would be deployed to help with evacuation efforts.

Sulawesi is one of Indonesia's five main islands.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | World News