Rescued Canadian-U.S. couple reunited with family; receiving medical attention


TORONTO (Reuters) – A U.S.-Canadian couple freed in Pakistan this week, nearly five years after being abducted in Afghanistan, reunited with the husband’s family on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman arrived with their three children late on Friday in Toronto, where the husband said one of his children was murdered and his wife had been raped.

Citing an email from Boyle, the AP reported the family had “reached the first true ‘home’ that the children have ever known — after they spent most of Friday asking if each subsequent airport was our new house hopefully.”

Boyle, a Canadian, and Coleman, an American were kidnapped while backpacking in Afghanistan in 2012 by the Taliban-allied Haqqani network.

Pakistani troops rescued the family this week in the northwest of the country, near the Afghan border. The United States has long accused Pakistan of failing to fight the Haqqani network. The couple had three children while in captivity.

Boyle opened his Friday media statement by saying he was delayed due to a medical emergency involving one of his children.

AP, citing Boyle’s email, said his daughter had a cursory medical exam and hospital staff were “enthusiastically insistent that her chances seemed miraculously high based on a quick physical.”

Boyle made a brief statement at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport late on Friday, calling on the Taliban “to provide my family with the justice we are owed.”

“God willing, this litany of stupidity will be the epitaph of the Haqqani network,” he said.

Reporting by Maggie Parkhill; Writing by Denny Thomas; Editing by Bill Trott


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Sir Tom Jones cancels US tour on ‘medical advice’


Sir Tom Jones

Singer Sir Tom Jones has postponed his US tour following medical advice.

The 77-year-old, famous for hits like Delilah, It’s Not Unusual and Sex Bomb, was due to start with a concert in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday.

In a statement on his website, Sir Tom sent his “sincere apologies” to fans for cancelling the dates, which will be re-arranged for 2018.

Fans of the Pontypridd singer will be able to use their tickets for the new dates, yet to be announced.


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Ross Barkley: Everton midfielder ‘did not have Chelsea medical’


Ross Barkley has played 150 times in the Premier League for Everton

Everton’s claim that Ross Barkley turned down a move to Chelsea after having a medical and agreeing a contract has been disputed by a source close to the England midfielder.

Majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri said Everton had accepted a bid and Barkley had agreed personal terms before changing his mind after passing a medical.

But the source said the 23-year-old did not travel to Chelsea.

And they said he had not had a medical.

“It was simply that he would rather make a decision about his next move when he is fully fit, rather than arrive at a new club injured,” the source said.

Barkley has a hamstring injury that is likely to keep him out for three months.

Everton had initially rejected a £25m offer from Chelsea for the player on Wednesday before reports that a deal had been agreed late on Thursday.

“It is a big surprise but that is football,” Moshiri told Sky Sports.

Barkley has less than a year left on his contract and has turned down a new deal at the club he grew up supporting and joined as an 11-year-old.

The academy graduate has played 150 times for Everton in the Premier League, scoring 21 times since making his debut in 2011.

In July, manager Ronald Koeman said the club “100%” expected Barkley to leave Goodison Park.

Analysis – ‘a strange situation’

BBC Sport chief footballer writer Phil McNulty:

Ross Barkley’s transfer to Chelsea was all but done. The fee agreed was between £30m and £35m and personal terms had been settled.

He won’t be playing much before December anyway and I’m sure it will be revisited in the New Year.

It certainly is a strange situation.


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Newborn left in gym bag outside Atlanta medical facility


A newborn baby boy who was found inside of a gym bag with the umbilicord still attached is now being cared for at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The abandoned infant, who staff have taken to calling “miracle baby,” spent an entire day without food or water before he was discovered inside the bag, Fox 5 Atlanta reported.

An unknown person dropped the bag off outside the Family Medical Clinic in Chamblee on Wednesday morning, and a staff member placed it inside the office thinking it belonged to a patient, the news outlet reported.


The cleaning staff opened the bag on Thursday and discovered the boy, who appears to be premature and weighs 4.86 pounds.

Police are investigating surveillance video to determine who dropped the bag at the facility, Fox 5 Atlanta reported. 


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CBS Developing Medical Comedy From Lisa Parsons Based on Korean Series


CBS is developing a new comedy series based on the South Korean series “Emergency Couple”, Variety has learned exclusively.

“Love/Sick,” a multi-cam hybrid, follows a young female doctor who is put in charge of a new group of medical interns, only to discover that one of them is her ex-boyfriend. Lisa Parsons will serve as the writer and executive producer on the project, with Jeffrey Kramer and Jiwon Park also executive producing. CBS Television Studios will produce.

Parsons has previously worked on shows such as “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Arrested Development” as a writer and story editor, as well as writing for and producing the Epix series “Graves.” She also wrote for and co-produced the Nickelodeon series “See Dad Run,” which starred Scott Baio. She is repped by Paradigm and attorney Greg Gellman.

This is the latest Korean series to be adapted for a U.S. audience. This fall, ABC will debut “The Good Doctor,” based on the Korean series of the same name. It follows a young surgeon (Freddie Highmore) with autism and savant syndrome who relocates from a quiet country life to join a prestigious hospital’s surgical unit.

On Monday, CBS announced that it was developing a new CIA drama series from Barbara Hall and former CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller. That deal was the first under Geller’s production deal he set after officially stepping as the president of CBS Entertainment in May after suffering a heart attack. The network is also developing a nuclear submarine drama from Alex Kurtzman’s Secret Hideout production banner that revolves around the crew of an American nuclear submarine that is rocked by a death on board that threatens to expose a major conspiracy and trigger a potential World War III.

(Pictured: Lisa Parsons)


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US drone company eyes Tanzania for medical deliveries


ZiplineImage copyright

Image caption

Packages are dropped from the drones, which do not land until their return to base

US robotics company Zipline, which launched the world’s first commercial drone delivery service, in Rwanda, says it is close to expanding to Tanzania.

It has been delivering emergency blood supplies within Rwanda since 2016.

Chief executive Keller Rinaudo told the TEDGlobal conference that he was in talks with Tanzania’s government to open four distribution centres.

But some have suggested the real goal of the negotiations is to gain permission to begin US deliveries.

Mr Rinaudo said he hoped a deal would allow the start-up to fly a range of medical products to thousands of Tanzania’s health centres.

“Having an agile supply chain for healthcare makes a big difference in improving access and empowering doctors,” he said at the TED event in Arusha, Tanzania.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionZipline already offers a medical supplies delivery service in Rwanda

The UK Department for International Development promised last year to help fund Zipline’s African expansion.

However, the World Bank has questioned the Silicon Valley-based company’s true motivation.

“Demonstration of real commercial deals in Africa will help raise its track record for the US market,” said Edward Anderson, a senior technologist at the bank in Tanzania.

He said that Zipline was “doing wonders in terms of making drones real in Africa” but questioned whether the deal – a commercial one requiring the government to pay per delivery – would go through.

“Whether the Tanzanian government will accept the terms remains to be seen,” he said.

Billions of people lack adequate access to essential medical products such as blood and vaccines, and more than five billion children die every year because of a lack of access to basic medical products, according to Mr Rinaudo.

The company charges between $15 and $45 (£11.60 to £34.85) per delivery, depending on product weight, urgency and distance.

“Think about what it would cost to make that journey by car, and that is about what it will cost,” said Mr Rinaudo.

But he made no apology for pursuing a commercial strategy.

“One of the most important things we are trying to show is that it is possible to tackle this problem in entrepreneurial ways.

“It doesn’t just have to be NGOs [non-governmental organisations] and foreign aid working on these big global issues.”

If the deal goes ahead, the centres would open over the next four years, allowing blood, vaccines and other medical items to be flown to health centres.

Zipline says it is also hoping to expand its service in Rwanda to deliver further medical products.

In Rwanda, the company is serving 12 hospitals via a central distribution centre.

Doctors or medical staff requiring blood contact Zipline online or via a WhatsApp message.

Its deliveries then take an average of 20 minutes.

The company says it receives multiple orders each day.

Image copyright

Image caption

Keller Rinaudo was speaking at TEDGlobal in Tanzania

“It is a magically simple experience for doctors. We send them a message saying the blood is one minute away, and they walk outside to collect it,” said Mr Rinaudo.

The drones are launched from a catapult and fly below 500ft (152m) to avoid airspace used by passenger planes.

They have an operational range of 150km (93 miles).

The blood is delivered by parachute, and the drones do not land.


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A New Way for Doctors to Share Their Medical Mysteries


In Gerald Grant’s line of work, there isn’t such a thing as an “average” patient. As a chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Stanford University Medical Center, the children that come into his operating room are unique, each requiring a complex surgical procedure tailored to the architecture of a young brain.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t learn from what other people have done. Grant’s always searching for similar cases to give his patients the best possible shot. And more and more he’s finding those answers not in prestigious, paywalled publications like the Journal of Neurosurgery (of whose editorial board he is a member), but on the freely available pages of an upstart publishing platform modeled after, of all things, Turbotax.

The Cureus Journal of Medical Science (that’s pronounced “curious”) is the brainchild of one of Grant’s colleagues at Stanford, a fellow neurosurgeon named John Adler. He’s on a mission to build the world’s most comprehensive library of medical case studies. Cureus is the first and only peer-reviewed publication with step-by-step article templates for authors—which dramatically speeds up publication times. (Just like your tax software!) If case studies are published in weeks instead of months, that means millions more medical lessons to learn from.

The science of medicine is all about power in numbers. Big cohorts, long-term trials, and lots of money ensure that most treatments will work for most people with a disease. But the practice of medicine is all about individuals. And case reports—detailed accounts of an individual patient’s symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment response—are, by definition, outliers. So there’s a healthy (and long-standing) debate about where in the hierarchy of evidence they should sit.

Practicing physicians like Grant and Adler tend to argue for the educational value of case reports. What seems like a one-off might actually fall into a pattern—but how will anyone know if no one writes it down? “Most case reports are undocumented beyond just two surgeons talking over a scrub sink,” says Adler. “Not enough of those stories get told.” Biomedical researchers and subscription-based journal editors tend to spurn case reports, in no small part because of how rarely they get cited. Paywalled journals, like dead tree newspapers, only have so much space to print articles. And they want to make every column count.

But the digitization of peer-reviewed publishing is changing that. Since 2011, the number of journals that focus on case reports has tripled. “Thirty years ago we didn’t have ways to do it,” says Adler. “But now we have control over the floodgates.” Most case report journals are open access—meaning the articles aren’t behind a paywall. Instead, the authors pay a publishing fee, usually a few thousand dollars, to cover editors salaries and other overhead expenses.

As WIRED has covered, this model is easily and often exploited by “predatory” publishers, companies that solicit authors directly, collect their fees, and then don’t follow through with promises of proper peer-review and article indexing. According to Katherine Akers, a biomedical research specialist at Wayne State University and editor in chief of the Journal of the Medical Library Association, approximately half of the publishers of medical case report journals engage in predatory practices. That’s why she tends to view any new publications, including Cureus, with a healthy dose of skepticism. “For the most part, this one actually looks okay,” she says, noting that Cureus is totally fee-free and indexed in PubMed—the database most used by biomedical researchers to find interesting papers relevant to their interests.

But there is one red flag.

For most reputable biomedical journals, the process of reviewing an article takes about three hours. Cureus boasts that with its easy-to-use form, reviews take no more than an hour to complete. “That’s really fast,” says Akers. “Usually that’s a warning sign that these articles aren’t being looked at that rigorously.” Cureus says its review process only verifies the basic scientific credibility of a report. And Grant agreed that the bar to peer review might indeed be a little bit lower on Cureus than elsewhere. But when it comes to case reports, he says that might actually be OK.

“In our world, we’re missing a lot of the science because so many journals don’t see case reports as publishable,” says Grant. “But these rare one-offs could become really interesting if they were all reported, instead of just passed around by word of mouth. I don’t think it dilutes the literature at all.”

Adler, with his goal of publishing tens of millions of articles a year on Cureus, is obviously ambivalent on the dilution question. But that’s because his team built another tool for telling the good from the bad. Once a paper has been published, any of the platform’s 10,000-some users can leave comments and rate the paper’s quality and clinical significance on a scale of one to ten. The idea, Adler says, is not unlike estimating the number of marbles in a jar. If you ask a few people to guess, you get wildly different numbers. But ask enough people you eventually wind up with an average that’s close to the real answer.

With enough data, Cureus could be more than just a publishing platform: It could become a prediction engine. Because case reports are mostly about rare, isolated events, it can take years, even decades to find patterns. Adler envisions his crowd-sourced metric as a way to arrive at that answer sooner.

But to do that, he needs a lot more articles, and a lot more data. Since launching in December of 2012, Cureus has published about 1,600 articles, and it currently publishes about 25 per week. At that rate, it will take more than 100 years to hit 1 million reports. And it’s hard to get doctors to spend as much time rating reports as they do liking Facebook posts and Twitter threads. Right now less than 60 percent of Cureus articles have been rated more than once.

On the other hand, articles don’t need upvotes to be useful in operating rooms. A few months ago, a family brought their 13-year-old daughter in to see Grant. She was suffering from cerebral palsy; Her muscles were in a near constant state of contraction because of a missed connection between sensory nerves in the spinal cord and the brain. Grant realized the best course of action was probably a procedure called a selective dorsal rhizotomy, which would require him to separate out the nerves that worked from the ones that were misfiring, and then cut out only the dysfunctional ones. But because it’s so invasive (and expensive), he wanted to make sure the effects would last long after the operation.

So he logged on to Cureus. Doctors at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, he found, had performed the same procedure on 94 patients between the years 1989 and 1999. And they followed up with them 20 years later. Nearly 90 percent of the patients said they’d recommend the procedure; they could move better, they had less pain, and the effects were indeed long lasting. “That kind of data is hard to get into a high impact journal,” says Grant. “But in the clinic, this is the kind of stuff my patients are asking me. These are practical questions. And these reports are able to address them.”

Grant performed the surgery. And so far, his patient is doing very well.


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Zipline Launches Medical Supply Drone Deliveries in Tanzania


Last month in Rwanda, a young woman started bleeding after giving birth by C-section. Try as they might, her doctors couldn’t stop it. They’d already transfused the two units of matching blood that they had on-hand. They could have called the national blood bank in the capital of Kigali to request more, but ordering it, and sending it the 25 miles over mountainous roads to the hospital would take up to four hours. The woman didn’t have that kind of time.

Desperate, the doctors called a distribution center near Kigali, where clinic workers and a flight crew loaded a series of small, unmanned aircraft with the needed supplies and launched them into the sky. Within 45 minutes, they dispatched seven units of red blood cells, four units of plasma, and two units of platelets, more than circulates through the entire human body.

Each drone needed just 15 minutes to reach the hospital, where it dropped its payload on a pre-determined landing zone. Doctors grabbed the supplies and used them to stabilize the 24-year-old patient.

Delivering medical deliveries by drone has become almost routine in Rwanda since the California startup Zipline arrived in October. “We do this every day,” says company founder and CEO Keller Rinaudo. Although his company’s hardware helped save that woman’s life, he gives all the credit to the team, recruited from the surrounding community, at the distribution center. “That’s not just her life,” he says, “that’s a kid who has a mom.”

Now, Zipline is expanding into neighboring Tanzania, establishing the world’s largest national drone delivery service. The Tanzanian government wants to make as many as 2,000 daily deliveries from four distribution centers serving an area roughly the size of Texas and Louisiana.

Zipline has performed about 1,400 deliveries in Rwanda, about a quarter of them in emergencies. Its drones have clocked 60,000 , delivering blood to areas ground vehicles can’t reach quickly, or at all during the rainy season that turns roads to mud.

For the new service, Zipline plans to fly upgraded versions of its fixed-wing drones, which have a 6-foot wingspan and can cruise at 70 mph. Each can carry 3 pounds of cargo (one unit of blood weighs roughly 1.2 pounds), and the batteries can make a round trip of 100 miles. Folded wax paper parachutes and cardboard cargo bays make the drones both durable and cheap to operate and repair. “The new vehicle is highly modular,” says Rinaudo. “If a sensor is giving weird readings, it’s super fast to replace that.”

Tanzania’s first distribution center is slated for Dodoma, the capital, and will be up and running early next year. Three more will follow, creating a network to serve the nation’s 55 million citizens. That’s a huge expansion over the operation in Rwanda, a much smaller country with a population of just 12 million. Each center will run a fleet of 30 drones, enough for 500 deliveries daily. In addition to blood, they’ll carry emergency vaccines, HIV medications, and supplies like IV tubes, to 5,640 public health facilities.

Zipline makes a habit of recruiting and training local engineers, health workers, and flight operators. As was the case in Rwanda, Rinaudo knows his team will have to work with local communities to emphasize the aircraft perform humanitarian, not military or surveillance, work.

The drones will supplement the government’s sporadic overland deliveries. “That mission can be a challenge during emergencies, times of unexpected demand, bad weather, or for small but critical orders,” Laurean Bwanakunu, director general of the country’s medical stores department, said in a statement. “Using drones for just-in-time deliveries will allow us to provide health facilities with complete access to vital medical products no matter the circumstance.”

While Zipline might expand further in Africa, Rinaudo believes its services could be useful globally. “Rural healthcare is a huge problem in the US too,” he says.

But launching in America requires wrangling with restrictive regulations that have limited drone deliveries to the occasional test, like 7-Eleven’s Slurpee shipment in Reno, Nevada, or Flirtey’s drug dropoff in Virginia. Widespread operation requires approval from the FAA, which worries about keeping drones away from conventional aircraft.

But remote areas of the country—rural Native American reservations, for example—far from hospitals, could certainly benefit from a Zipline-like service. And from there, it’s not such a big leap to launching a service to get you that Amazon package you so desperately need.


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