This afternoon I sat in my chair, revitalized form my weekend trip to the Jersey Shore, where I can assure you I did not partake in any fist pumping, spray tanning, pickle eating, or felonious activities, when I received an email from the American Heart Association announcing new scientific findings. I like these emails and generally find them informative.
This particular email announced the placement of the first completely lab-grown human vascular grafts. The email linked to a presentation from Todd N. McAllister of Cytograft Tissue Engineering Inc. These blood vessels were apparently engineered from donor skin cells and:
The tissue-engineered blood vessels, produced from sheets of cultured skin cells rolled around temporary support structures, were used to create access shunts between arteries and veins in the arm for kidney dialysis in three patients. These shunts, which connect an artery to a vein, provide access to the blood for dialysis. The engineered vessels were about a foot long with a diameter of 4.8 millimeters.
At follow-up exams up to eight months after implantation, none of the patients had developed an immune reaction to the implants, and the vessels withstood the high pressure and frequent needle punctures required for dialysis. Shunts created from patients’ own vessels or synthetic materials are notoriously prone to failure.
Investigators previously showed that using vessels individually created from a patient’s own skin cells reduced the rate of shunt complications 2.4-fold over a 3-year period. The availability of off-the-shelf vessels could avoid the expense and months-long process involved in creating custom vessels for each patient, making the technique feasible for widespread use.
Besides addressing a costly and vexing problem in kidney dialysis, off-the-shelf blood vessels might someday be used instead of harvesting patients’ own vessels for bypass surgery. A larger, randomized trial of the grafts is under way for kidney dialysis, and human trials have been initiated to assess the safety and effectiveness of these grafts for lower-limb bypass.
This is an amazing bit of engineering and I was excited to watch Dr. McAllister’s presentation on the AHA website. As with most websites, the AHA website asks you to register. I clicked on the registration page and found this:
The AHA apparently allows married partners to register together. Note the presence of “Mr. & Mrs.” and “Dr. and Mrs.”. And yet…not “Dr. and Mr.”? Not “Dr. and Dr.”?
For balls sake, American Heart Association. For balls freaking sake.
As I was sitting, feeling once again indignant about the world, Dr. Triple Threat came in to my office. I pointed this out to him. He, realizing my tendency to rage against the man, opted to probe the untamed beast, stating:
Maybe the “Dr. and Mrs” option is for women who have married other women?
That gave me pause to stop and consider my own currently heterocentric view of the world and the heterocentricity of the options. And, while I am still cheesed off that one of the largest American medical societies has basically told us that “Dr. and Mr.” is not an option, I wonder what additional options my homosexual brethren would want? After all, another state has passed legislation allowing gay men and women a basic right they should never have had to fight for.
And yet, our options remain “Dr. and Mrs.”and “Mr. and Mrs.”.
*This blog post was originally published at On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess*