News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*The Times of London reported in March that a convicted rapist in his 30s has been recommended for British government-provided Viagra to treat a depression he has been suffering since his release from prison a year ago. Doctors at St. George's hospital in Tooting in south London say his main problem now is the lack of a girlfriend.

*According to a recent issue of the Indian Journal of Orthopaedics, a majority of arthritis patients in a study showed a reduction in pain and an increase in hand-grip strength after a regimen of "autohemotherapy." About three-fourths of a cup of blood was withdrawn from patients' veins, mixed in a copper bowl with one-fourth of a cup each of honey and lemon juice, stirred for several minutes, and then taken orally.

Frontiers of Medicine
*In November Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City was fined $30,000 for permitting a medical-equipment salesman, dressed in scrubs, to assist in a 1997 surgery by operating a new machine in the OR. The patient had entered for a common, uncomplicated operation (removal of a benign tumor in her uterus) but died when a surgeon was unable to detect that she had retained too much saline.

*According to a January Chicago Sun-Times report, a 1998 National Institutes of Health surgery trial at the University of Colorado experimented with 40 Parkinson's disease patients, 20 of whom received fetal tissue implanted in their brains and 20 of whom had four holes drilled in their heads as placebos but nothing implanted. Some medical ethicists draw a distinction between giving patients placebo sugar pills and drilling holes in their heads, but apparently none of the 20 was adversely affected. However, the trial was delayed when a couple of the real-implant patients died.

The Classic Middle Name
*Arrested for murder after a fight over money, Corpus Christi, Texas, February: William Wayne Wright. Sentenced to 27 years in prison for murder, Portland, Oregon, February: Bryant Wayne Howard. Arrested for the murder of his wife, Mount Airy, Maryland, February: Donald Wayne Holt. Arrested for attempted capital murder for attacking a woman with a hammer and setting her on fire, Arlington, Texas, February: Jimmy Wayne Miller. Arrested for manslaughter in a road-rage death, Portland, Oregon, January: Terry Wayne Unruh.

Latest Breast-feeding News
*World women's chess champion Zsuzsa Polgar, 29, was scheduled to give birth this month in New York City and so had been permitted to reschedule her required title defense from April to June. However, Polgar said that meant she might have to breast-feed her baby during the match, though she thought it would be more of a distraction to her than to her opponent. And a Hamilton, Ontario, lifeguard ordered Shannon Wray, 25, out of a municipal pool in February when she began to breast-feed her 9-month-old daughter. Wray assumed it was because she was offending swimmers, but the lifeguard pointed to the "no food in the pool" rule.

-- By Chuck Shepherd


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