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Global Life Expectancy Hits 68 Years
CBC News, April 9, 2010

Life expectancy worldwide has risen steeply over the last half-century because of improvements in nutrition and hygiene, as well as advances in vaccines and medical treatments, a new UN report says.

Life expectancy worldwide rose steeply over the last half-century, a new United Nations report says.

In the 1950-55 period, average life expectancy was 47 years. From 2005-2010, the average human was expected to live 68 years.

The UN report, issued Friday, says people are living longer mainly because of improvements in nutrition and hygiene, as well as advances in vaccines and medical treatments against infectious and parasitic diseases.

Life expectancy increased the most in developing countries, where it now stands at 66 years, up from 41 years in 1950-55. It is still lowest in Africa, where HIV-AIDS has kept the average life expectancy at 55 years.

The UN report also says non-communicable diseases such as cancer and heart failure have supplanted communicable ones as the main causes of death.

The report, from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, will be discussed next week at a meeting of the UN Commission on Population and Development.

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Giving the Gift of Life: The Many Sides To Organ Donation
By Valerie Jones ~ Cypress Sun Lifestyles, April 9, 2010

Organ donations save the lives of thousands of people in the United States each year. In 2009, more than 28,000organ transplants were performed in the U.S. and there were close to one million tissue transplants.

Deciding to become an organ donor is a very personal and serious decision, but each individual donor has the potential to save 80 lives. This month might be the best time to consider becoming a donor because April is National Donate Life Month.

The ‘big wait’

“The term ‘waiting list’ is sort of a misnomer,” said Spring resident Jack Millsaps, who is waiting on a liver transplant. “It’s not a first-in, first-out deal. It’s based on how sick you are.” Millsaps is one of many who uses a MELD (Model for End-Stage Liver Disease) Score. Every month he is tested and given a score. “It’s really based on necessity and how badly the liver is functioning,” Millsaps said. “The guy who needs it the most is ahead of the line. I’ve only been listed for three months, but have had cirrhosis for six years.”

For many, the most difficult part of the whole organ donation and receiving process is waiting on an organ to become available.

“Complications can arise during the wait. My lifestyle has completely changed,” Millsaps said. “Even simple things like taking a long walk I’m not able to do. I’m not even allowed to drive at this point and I’m not working.”

Millsaps said he’s supposed to stay within two hours of the hospital at all times in case he gets a call for the transplant. “It’s tough. You’re held down, not working and your life is pretty much waiting,” he said. “The wait is uncertain so that’s a concern. Everybody wants to get on with their life.”

Millsaps said he doesn’t have any fears about the transplant surgery, that’s it’s actually “the easiest part of all of this.” There are support groups he attends where everyone talks about their situations. “After surgery you take medication for the rest of your life, but your life gets back to its normal routine,” Millsaps said.

Before he knew he was sick, Millsaps admitted he didn’t really think about being an organ donor. “You don’t think about it until it’s knocking on your own doorstep,” he said. “But you can be a hero and donate – it takes about five minutes. Being on the donor list doesn’t shorten your lifespan or prolong it. So why not become a donor?”

Life after transplant surgery

Dallas Foster was 38 years old having the time of his life. He stayed busy as a sales representative for the medical field, playing in a jazz band and enjoying time with his girlfriend.

A sudden bout of the flu changed everything.

“I got the flu and it attacked my heart,” Foster said. “I had a Cardiomyopathy or cognitive heart failure.”

It was May of 1998.

“My initial thought was shock,” Foster said. “There I was, healthy and happy, and all of a sudden the doctor looked me straight in my eyes and told me I needed a new heart.”

Foster’s only wish was that he fly to Georgia for the procedure so that he could be close to his family. So he flew to Georgia and spent almost a year in the hospital.

“In those situations, a lot of people say ‘why me,’ but I thought ‘why not me?’” Foster said. “They tried everything they could to stabilize my heart and couldn’t. The LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) was the mechanical device that kept me alive until a heart became available. The situation really changes your perspective on things. Lucky enough they were able to find a heart for me.”

June 30, 1999 was the day Foster received his new heart. He was released from the hospital that July.

Foster’s family was already familiar with the process of organ donation because his mother had donated her organs two years before his transplant.

“Several years before my transplant, my family was sitting around at my mother’s house one Thanksgiving and out of the blue my mother said if anything were ever to happen to her, she wanted to be an organ donor,” Foster said. “As it turns out, almost two years before my transplant surgery, my mother was in a fatal accident and we donated her organs.”

Since his transplant surgery, Foster has had to adjust to some lifestyle changes, including being a drug-induced diabetic (because of the surgery) and no longer working. “I would love to work but my body doesn’t recharge like a normal person’s,” he said. “I plan my day out, even allotting time for rest. I still play in my band and I do enough to have fun, but not enough to hurt me.”

Foster said he can no longer run and plays less tennis, but that doesn’t damper his spirits. “I have an eight-year-old granddaughter,” he said. “If I hadn’t had the transplant, she wouldn’t have known me. Being a transplant recipient has been a wonderful experience.”

Foster said he and others plan on starting an organization called Donate Life-Houston, in conjunction with Life Gift, to see what can be done locally to raise the number of donors.

Foster said he’s even reached out to his donor family by writing them a letter. “I thanked them for giving me and my family a second opportunity and I mentioned that we had also donated my mother’s organs,” he said. “I let them know that things were going well and I would love to meet them at their convenience.

Foster said he hasn’t gotten a response yet, but said if he were to meet them, he would simply tell them ‘thank you.’ “Whether they contact me or not, the greatest gift I can give to them is to stay alive – be active, healthy and live life,” he said. “To let them know their family member’s donation was not in vain.”

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Vimy Ceremonies Salute Last WW I Vet
CBC News, April 9, 2010
The national End of Era ceremony in Ottawa was one of many across the country. Others also took place in England, Belgium and at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France.The national End of Era ceremony in Ottawa was one of many across the country. Others also took place in England, Belgium and at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. (Laurence Wall/CBC)

Canadians have paid a special tribute to the country’s last First World War veteran and his generation at a ceremony in Ottawa that officially marked the end of an era.

John Babcock, 109, who died in February, was honoured at the national End of an Era commemorative ceremony on Vimy Ridge Day at the National War Memorial in the capital on Friday morning.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the crowd of thousands that the event was a goodbye and a homage to “the generation whose fearlessness in war and selflessness in peace first defined our young nation in the eyes of the world.”

Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean thanked veterans personally for their service during a ceremonial inspection Friday.Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean thanked veterans personally for their service during a ceremonial inspection Friday. (CBC)

He added, “With the passing of John Babcock only a few weeks ago, we have sadly lost our last living link to this generation of admirable Canadians.”

Freedom and the responsibility to use it for great purpose are a gift left behind by that generation, he said.

“As Canadians let us be tireless always and, as they were, for that which is right and good.”

Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean said the spirit of Babcock and other witnesses of that war live in our memory, and that is precious because of the wisdom that we draw from it.

She added that while it’s important to acknowledge the contribution of veterans, “it is just as important to recognize that of the men and women who still today go to troubled spots around the world to free entire populations from the yoke of tyranny.”

The ceremony started at 11 a.m. ET with the arrival of the prime minister and governor general. Rows of veterans saluted Jean, and then she walked among them in a ceremonial inspection, shaking their hands and thanking them personally for their service.

The event included a 21-gun salute, a fly-past by a vintage First World War Sopwith Strutter aircraft and the release of 65 white homing pigeons, one for every 10,000 Canadians who served in First World War.

Ceremonies held across Canada

Other ceremonies are being held across Canada, in London and at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. The memorial marks the place where Canadians won a First World War battle 93 years ago, helping establish Canada’s identity as an independent country.

John Babcock, the last known Canadian veteran of the First World War, died on Feb. 18, 2010, at the age of 109.
John Babcock, the last known Canadian veteran of the First World War, died on Feb. 18, 2010, at the age of 109. (Canadian Press)

The Queen issued a special statement Friday recognizing the significance of this year’s events as a time to pay tribute “to the passing of a truly remarkable generation.”

She credited Canadian soldiers with helping end what she called “the most terrible conflict the world had ever known” and called their sacrifice a “defining moment in the history of Canada … which we will never forget.”

Nearly 650,000 Canadians served and more than 200,000 were killed or wounded in the overseas conflict. Newfoundlanders who served in the war, which took place long before Newfoundland became part of Canada in 1949, were also honoured Friday.

At a ceremony beside the Canada Memorial in London’s Green Park near Buckingham Palace earlier Friday, Canadian High Commissioner James Wright said Canadians owe a debt to that entire generation.

“The freedom we enjoy came at a heavy price,” he said. “For that we honour all those who played a part in the Great War. And we thank them. And we will keep alive their memory now and for years to come.”

Babcock, the last survivor among the Canadians who served, was born on a farm near Kingston, Ont., in 1900. He lied about his age to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Sydenham, Ont., in 1916.

When his age was discovered, he was sent to a Boys Battalion to train with other teenage boys until he was old enough to fight. The war ended shortly before he turned 18.

After the war, Babcock moved to the U.S. He died in Spokane, Wash., on Feb. 18, 2010.

War memorial

A Canadian naval master seaman is framed by the Canadian and British flags at a memorial service in London’s Green Park on Friday. The ceremony marked the passing of the last Canadian veteran of the First World War, John Babcock, who died on Feb. 18, 2010, in Spokane, Wash. (Max Nash/Associated Press)

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