Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Heart Magic vs. Heart Science

British teenager Hannah Clark survived a childhood heart transplant, torturous years on an immunosuppressant regimen, bouts with cancer, and the reversal of said heart transplant. Good for her. When she eleven months old, her heart stopped functioning, so doctors had to insert a donor heart to pick up the slack. By age four, both hearts were working normally, and now the supplemental donor heart has been removed. The amazing thing here is that her original heart was able to make such a spectacular recovery. This is good news for people with heart conditions, and Clark's case will provide scientists with some much needed data so we can one day replicate this kind of recovery on a routine basis. So why did one of Clark's doctors, Magdi Yacoub have to say during a press conference that "the possibility of recovery of the heart is just like magic"? Especially when he and his colleagues were presenting published research on Clark's condition? If this was really just like magic, what's the point in doing any research outside of the salt circle and eyes of newt fields? This is the kind of careless comment that will most likely be taken by anti-medicine wonks as evidence for doing without doctors entirely. Unless, of course, Dr. Yacoub is actually a wizard. In which case, my apologies, sir. More details here.