Five years ago, a paper published in the BMJ came to the startling conclusion that IVF was more dangerous than abortion in the UK. The 2007 UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Death recorded four deaths directly related to IVF via ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and three deaths related to multiple pregnancy after IVF. Thus, more deaths were related to OHSS than to abortion (two) despite many fewer IVF procedures (for example, there were 48,829 IVF cycles v 198,500 abortions in the UK in 2007).
Has the situation improved since then?
UK authorities are making it very difficult to find out, suggests Dr Geeta Nargund in BioNews. She points out that the UK’s fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, reported a “slight increase” in severe OHSS incidents in 2015. However, at 40%, the increase was far from slight. She writes indignantly:
The HFEA should be putting this alarming statistic on the front page and discussing methods to reverse this trend. Yet the very opposite appears to be the case. It is impossible to extract the number of OHSS cases from this report and it has only come to light thanks to the persistence of Guardian science reporter Hannah Devlin… there remain questions about whether any maternal deaths that may be linked to OHSS have been reported.She argues that the HFEA should expose OHSS complications and should make renewal of the licences of IVF clinics conditional upon the incidence of OHSS. “By this means, the welfare and safety of women undergoing IVF treatment would be more effectively protected. The time has now come for firm action to reverse the trend of severe OHSS.”
When there’s talk of border crossings and illegal Mexican migrants, my thoughts used to turn to the ugliness of Donald Trump’s dream: "I will build a great wall -- and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me --and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border.”
But after reading a remarkable feature in California Sunday Magazine, I’m trying to think about 66 Garage instead. The name of Mr 66 Garage may not ring a bell with you, but to be fair, it doesn't ring one with him either. He is an undocumented migrant whose truck overturned on a border crossing in June 1999. He hit his head and never woke up.
Ever since 66 Garage has lived in a persistent vegetative state in a San Diego nursing home where he is given round-the-clock care. What a country America is: it produces a politician who treats illegal migrants as if they were cockroaches and nurses who treat them as if they were their own family.
Anyhow, this 18-20-year-old man had taken the “undocumented” part of his journey seriously. He could not be identified and the nursing home christened him 66 Garage, although some of the staff protested that it was undignified. A wonderful woman named Paula visited him every week for 15 years and wondered who he was.
There are thousands upon thousands of missing migrants and their relatives are desperate to find them. A photo of 66 Garage has been shared more than 300,000 times on Facebook. Earlier this year a friend of Paula’s took an interest in the case and 66 Garage was finally fingerprinted. A match led to his sister in the southern state of Oaxaca. Now she can wave at him over Skype on his birthday.
It’s a remarkable story about vulnerability, dignity, blood ties, and American generosity. Read it.
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