After the jump … read an older post I did about breast cancer fraud, and then read about the latest $9 million breast cancer fraud uncovered.
CHICAGO (The Blaze/AP) — A small but growing number of teens and even younger children who think they were born the wrong sex are getting support from parents and from doctors who give them sex-changing treatments, according to reports in the medical journal Pediatrics.
It’s an issue that raises ethical questions, and some experts urge caution in treating children with puberty-blocking drugs and hormones.
An 8-year-old second-grader in Los Angeles is a typical patient. Born a girl, the child announced at 18 months, “I a boy” and has stuck with that belief. The family was shocked but now refers to the child as a boy and is watching for the first signs of puberty to begin treatment, his mother told The Associated Press.
The Daily Mail reported about yet another example of this back in September:
The lesbian parents of an 11-year-old boy who is undergoing the process of becoming a girl last night defended the decision, claiming it was better for a child to have a sex change when young.
Thomas Lobel, who now calls himself Tammy, is undergoing controversial hormone blocking treatment in Berkeley, California to stop him going through puberty as a boy.
Pediatricians need to know these kids exist and deserve treatment, said Dr. Norman Spack, author of one of three reports published Monday and director of one of the nation’s first gender identity medical clinics, at Children’s Hospital Boston.
“If you open the doors, these are the kids who come. They’re out there. They’re in your practices,” Spack said in an interview.
Switching gender roles and occasionally pretending to be the opposite sex is common in young children. But these kids are different. They feel certain they were born with the wrong bodies.
Some are labeled with “gender identity disorder,” a psychiatric diagnosis. But Spack is among doctors who think that’s a misnomer. Emerging research suggests they may have brain differences more similar to the opposite sex.
Spack said by some estimates, 1 in 10,000 children have the condition.
Offering sex-changing treatment to kids younger than 18 raises ethical concerns, and their parents’ motives need to be closely examined, said Dr. Margaret Moon, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ bioethics committee. She was not involved in any of the reports.
Some kids may get a psychiatric diagnosis when they are just hugely uncomfortable with narrowly defined gender roles; or some may be gay and are coerced into treatment by parents more comfortable with a sex change than having a homosexual child, said Moon, who teaches at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.
It’s harmful “to have an irreversible treatment too early,” Moon said.
Doctors who provide the treatment say withholding it would be more harmful.
These children sometimes resort to self-mutilation to try to change their anatomy; the other two journal reports note that some face verbal and physical abuse and are prone to stress, depression and suicide attempts. Spack said those problems typically disappear in kids who’ve had treatment and are allowed to live as the opposite sex.
Guidelines from the Endocrine Society endorse transgender hormone treatment but say it should not be given before puberty begins. At that point, the guidelines recommend puberty-blocking drugs until age 16, then lifelong sex-changing hormones with monitoring for potential health risks. Mental health professionals should be involved in the process, the guidelines say. The group’s members are doctors who treat hormonal conditions.
Those guidelines, along with YouTube videos by sex-changing teens and other media attention, have helped raise awareness about treatment and led more families to seek help, Spack said.
His report details a fourfold increase in patients at the Boston hospital. His Gender Management Service clinic, which opened at the hospital in 2007, averages about 19 patients each year, compared with about four per year treated for gender issues at the hospital in the late 1990s.
The report details 97 girls and boys treated between 1998 and 2010; the youngest was 4 years old. Kids that young and their families get psychological counseling and are monitored until the first signs of puberty emerge, usually around age 11 or 12. Then children are given puberty-blocking drugs, in monthly $1,000 injections or implants imbedded in the arm.
In another Pediatrics report, a Texas doctor says he’s also provided sex-changing treatment to an increasing number of children; so has a clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where the 8-year-old is a patient.
The drugs used by the clinics are approved for delaying puberty in kids who start maturing too soon. The drugs‘ effects are reversible and Spack said they’ve caused no complications in his patients. The idea is to give these children time to mature emotionally and make sure they want to proceed with a permanent sex change. Only one of the 97 opted out of permanent treatment, Spack said.
Kids will more easily pass as the opposite gender, and require less drastic treatment later, if drug treatment starts early, Spack said. For example, boys switching to girls will develop breasts and girls transitioning to boys will be flat-chested if puberty is blocked and sex-hormones started soon enough, Spack said.
Sex hormones, especially in high doses when used long-term, can have serious side effects, including blood clots and cancer. Spack said he uses low, safer doses but that patients should be monitored.
Gender-reassignment surgery, which may include removing or creating penises, is only done by a handful of U.S. doctors, on patients aged at least 18, Spack said. His clinic has worked with local surgeons who’ve done breast removal surgery on girls at age 16, but that surgery can be relatively minor, or avoided, if puberty is halted in time, he said.
The mother of the Los Angeles 8-year-old says he’s eager to begin treatment.
When the child was told he could get shots to block breast development, “he was so excited,” the mother said.
He also knows he’ll eventually be taking testosterone shots for life but surgery right now is uncertain.
The child attends a public school where classmates don’t know he is biologically a girl. For that reason, his mother requested anonymity.
She said she explained about having a girl’s anatomy but he rejected that, refused to wear dresses, and has insisted on using a boy’s name since preschool.
The mother first thought it was a phase, then that her child might be a lesbian, and sought a therapist’s help to confirm her suspicion. That’s when she first heard the term “gender identity disorder” and learned it’s often not something kids outgrow.
Accepting his identity has been difficult for both parents, the woman said. Private schools refused to enroll him as a boy, and the family’s pediatrician refused to go along with their request to treat him like a boy. They found a physician who would, Dr. Jo Olson, medical director of a transgender clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Olson said the journal reports should help persuade more doctors to offer these kids sex-changing treatment or refer them to specialists who will.
“It would be so nice to move this out of the world of mental health, and into the medical world,” Olson said.
(The Sun By BELLA BATTLE) – A toddler who suffered horrific burns has made a full recovery after undergoing pioneering new surgery – which saw doctors spray a new layer of skin on him.
Two-year-old Zed Merrick was left with second degree burns across his chest and shoulder after knocking a cup of tea off a kitchen worktop.
His mother Nicky Merrick, 33, feared he would be left with horrendous scars for the rest of his life.
But doctors carried out a “revolutionary” new treatment where they made a solution from Zed’s own skin cells and sprayed it over his burns.
And just four months after the life-changing treatment Zed’s burns have completely disappeared – leaving him scar free.
Yesterday Nicky said the result was “incredible” and she hopes Zed will now be able to forget the trauma of the accident.
She said: “This new procedure made a huge difference to Zed and we just want to promote it so that other people can receive it too.
“The first time they took the bandages off we were just like ‘wow’ – the way it worked so quickly was incredible.
“In a normal procedure Zed would have had to have his bandages changed almost every day which can be very painful.
“We just want to say thank you to the surgeons for helping our little boy, I never dreamed he could look like this again.”
Zed suffered his horrific burns on October 13 last year at home in Ulceby, Lincs, where he lives with his businesswoman mother Nicola and father Chunky, a sound-engineer.
Nicky said: “It happened within seconds, Zed is like lightning, I just couldn’t believe it – it was like every parent’s worst nightmare.
“My mum was with us and she took his shirt off him and bits of his skin peeled off with it.
“We rushed him straight into the shower to try and cool the wound but it was hard because Zed was screaming and struggling in my arms.
“We kept trying to put cold wet towels on him but we had to keep changing them because they just warmed up on his body. You could see the skin peeling off straightaway, it was horrendous.
“Zed was clinging to me and crying, I remember I was wearing a black fluffy jumper and bits of the fluff were sticking to his chest. It was hard I didn’t want the fluff to stick to him, but I knew he needed to be cuddled.
“He was like a wild animal in my arms, thrashing about and screaming, it was terrible to have to see.”
The toddler was rushed to the specialist burns unit at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, Yorks, where surgeons operated on him for two hours.
Doctors used a technology called ReCell Spray-On Skin, developed by Cambridge-based Avita Medical.
The dead skin is removed before a small sample of healthy skin, around the size of a postage stamp, is removed from the patient’s body.
This sample in then placed in the ReCell machine, which uses an enzyme to break down the healthy skin so that it can be suspended in solution.
The solution is put into a standard syringe fitted with a nozzle which is used to spray the skin cells over the damaged area.
Special dressings are then applied, but there is no danger of the body rejecting the cells because they come from the patient’s own body.
And because the dressings gradually lift off themselves as the skin underneath heals, the patient does not have to go through the painful process of changing them every day.
Zed will also avoid the trauma of needing skin grafts and scar treatment throughout his life, as the sprayed-on skin will stretch with his body as he grows.
The ReCell technology has been around for seven years but few surgeons in Britain perform it and Zed is believed to be one of the youngest to receive it.
Jeremy Rawlins, the consultant plastic surgeon at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust who treated Zed, said that one of the reasons the treatment is still rare in this country is because of the cost to NHS trusts.
Mr Rawlins estimates Zed’s operation cost £5000, but the figure varies between NHS trusts. The ReCell machine costs £800.
Mr Rawlins said: “The NHS Trust aren’t so interested in the big long-term savings. The automatic response is a reluctance to embrace new technology because they are afraid of the costs.
“The ReCell technology is an upfront investment but you have to look at the bigger picture. This technology saves on the number of hospital visits a patient needs, saves on the nursing requirements, saves on the pain killers needed, I really believe it is a revolution in care.
“You just can’t put a price on the quality of comfort and care a child receives in our hospitals.
“And when you get a good result like Zed’s it makes it all worthwhile.”
Talk about poor bedside manner. A doctor of practicing in Portland, Maine, is now on probation after throwing a box of tissues at a crying patient, according to the Bangor Daily News.
John Boothby, a neurologist, admitted to his “unprofessional conduct” and in addition to his probation and warning by the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine, he must also attend classes on medical ethics, boundaries and patient communication.
The complaint against Boothby was received in Dec. 2010 and subsequent investigation revealed “sufficient evidence” of Boothby’s insensitivity. Maine Government News has more:
During the investigation Dr. Boothby admitted he might have told the patient to stop crying in an inappropriate way and that he may have been “emotional” in his discussion with the patient and his parent. Dr. Boothby also admitted he tossed the box of tissues onto the patient’s lap.
This was apparently not Dr. Boothby’s first offense. It was reported that he was issued a Letter of Guidance in Oct. 2010 for a complaint filed against him of alleged rudeness to a patient.
For years now I’ve made it a point to expose ‘Pink Ribbon’ fraud. Oftentimes, I’m hit with scorn from hypersensitive women who don’t appreciate I’m trying to help prevent such fraud.
After the jump … read an older post I did about breast cancer fraud, and then read about the latest $9 million breast cancer fraud uncovered.
Unfortunately, a $9 million fraud was just uncovered. These ‘Pink Ribbon’ companies maliciously prey upon the sensitivities of women.
A bogus breast cancer charity fraudulently raised more than $9 million over five years as its directors used the funds as a “personal piggy bank” for benefits packages, exorbitant salaries and loans to purchase upscale Long Island homes, as well as personal goods like cellphones, television and Internet services, authorities said.
This is an older post I did a while back …
Regular listeners know of my long standing frustration over companies using breast cancer as a means to make money while the majority of pink merchandise does not benefit cancer research at all. Something that has been confirmed many times, and is a stated frustration from legitimate cancer groups. Nonetheless, there has been an active effort to make every month breast cancer awareness month, and they’ve been successful.
Case in point, my wife and I were at Lowes yesterday, and we were inundated with breast cancer awareness merchandise … In May. Breast cancer awareness month is October. Now ask yourself, does it always appear to be breast cancer awareness month? Of course it does.
There is a couple of major problems with this type of perpetual marketing.
It takes away from the official campaign of awareness in October.
It’s mostly marketing pink products as falsely benefitting cancer research.
And it takes attention away from other, more serious cancers like prostate cancer. If it’s always breast cancer awareness month, how can more deadly cancers gain a foothold for awareness?
Many have asked me why this is happening since breast cancer is fairly mild compared to other cancers (yes it’s still very serious). The answer is remarkably simple. Breasts are one of the most easily marketed things in our country, and women are the most persuadable buyers. Ad the two together and you have an unstoppable recipe for moving merchandise.
Obviously breast cancer is a very important issue, but blindly supporting false advertising year around is no way to benefit its victims. So what can you do?
Don’t buy pink merchandise just for the hell of it. If you do, understand that it is for your own benefit only. Most revenue from pink merchandise does not go to cancer research or treatment. Often, none of it does. Don’t assume you’re helping research when you buy pink products, unless it’s from a reputable cancer group. Do your research before donating.
Donate to cancer research centers directly. This is the only way to know for sure your money goes for its intended purpose.
Don’t ignore other cancers. Sometimes people focus so much on one cancer to raise awareness that they forget there are far more deadly cancers out there. Make sure you get screened for these other cancers regularly.
Here’s some links covering the issue of pink products not benefiting breast cancer.