World’s first baby born via womb transplant from dead donor

Medical team hold the first baby born via uterus transplant from a deceased donor at the hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil December 15, 2017 in this picture handout obtained on December 4, 2018. Hospital das Clinicas da FMUSP/via REUTERS

By Kate Kelland

LONDON, Dec 4 (Reuters) – A woman in Brazil who received a womb transplanted from a deceased donor has given birth to a baby girl in the first successful case of its kind, doctors reported.

The case, published in The Lancet medical journal, involved connecting veins from the donor uterus with the recipient’s veins, as well as linking arteries, ligaments and vaginal canals.

It comes after 10 previously known cases of uterus transplants from deceased donors – in the United States, the Czech Republic and Turkey – failed to produce a live birth.

The girl born in the Brazilian case was delivered via cesarean section at 35 weeks and three days, and weighed 2,550 grams (nearly 6 lbs), the case study said.

Dani Ejzenberg, a doctor at Brazil’s Sao Paulo University hospital who led the research, said the transplant – carried out in September 2016 when the recipient was 32 – shows the technique is feasible and could offer women with uterine infertility access to a larger pool of potential donors.

The current norm for receiving a womb transplant is that the organ would come from a live family member willing to donate it.

“The numbers of people willing and committed to donate organs upon their own deaths are far larger than those of live donors, offering a much wider potential donor population,” Ejzenberg said in a statement about the results.

She added, however, that the outcomes and effects of womb donations from live and deceased donors have yet to be compared, and said the technique could still be refined and optimized.

The first baby born after a live donor womb transplant was in Sweden in 2013. Scientists have so far reported a total of 39 procedures of this kind, resulting in 11 live births.

Experts estimate that infertility affects around 10 to 15 percent of couples of reproductive age worldwide. Of this group, around one in 500 women have uterine problems.

Before uterus transplants became possible, the only options to have a child were adoption or surrogacy.

In the Brazilian case, the recipient had been born without a uterus due to a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome. The donor was 45 and died of a stroke.

Five months after the transplant, Ejzenberg’s team wrote, the uterus showed no signs of rejection, ultrasound scans were normal, and the recipient was having regular menstruation. The woman’s previously fertilized and frozen eggs were implanted after seven months and 10 days later she was confirmed pregnant.

At seven months and 20 days – when the case study report was submitted to The Lancet – the baby girl was continuing to breastfeed and weighed 7.2 kg (16 lb).

(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Bodies of mother clutching baby found as Indonesia quake toll rises above 1,500

A resident affected by the earthquake and tsunami cries during Friday prayers in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, October 5, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

By Kanupriya Kapoor and Fathin Ungku

PALU, Indonesia (Reuters) – A week after a major earthquake brought devastation to Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, Ichsan Hidayat told how the bodies of his sister and her 43-day-old daughter were found under a sea of mud and debris, the mother clutching her baby to her chest.

Hidayat was not on Sulawesi last Friday when the 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck, triggering a phenomenon called soil liquefaction, which turns the ground into a roiling quagmire.

A woman resident carries containers from the ruins of her house after an earthquake hit Balaroa sub-district in Palu, Indonesia, October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

A woman resident carries containers from the ruins of her house after an earthquake hit Balaroa sub-district in Palu, Indonesia, October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

The neighborhood of Petobo, in the south of the city of Palu, where his sister, Husnul Hidayat, lived with her daughter, Aisah, was wiped out.

Rescuers who recovered the bodies told Hidayat his sister was found holding Aisah close.

“Today, I prayed that they are in a better place. They deserve better,” Hidayat told Reuters as he left Friday prayers at a mosque in the center of Palu, 1,500 km (930 miles) northeast of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta.

Worshippers knelt to pray on red carpets put down outside the mosque as the building is unsafe due to quake damage.

Indonesia has the world’s biggest Muslim population but also pockets of Christians, including on Sulawesi, and other religions.

The official death toll from the quake and the tsunami it triggered stands at 1,571, but it will certainly rise.

Most of the dead have been found in Palu. Figures for more remote areas, some still cut off by destroyed roads and landslides, are only trickling in, if at all.

Destroyed houses as seen after an earthquake hit Petobo neighbourhood in Palu, Indonesia, October 5, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Destroyed houses as seen after an earthquake hit Petobo neighbourhood in Palu, Indonesia, October 5, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

No one knows how many people were dragged to their deaths when the ground under Petobo and nearby areas south of Palu, dissolved so violently.

The national disaster agency says 1,700 homes in one neighborhood alone were swallowed up and hundreds of people killed.

Hasnah, 44, also a resident of Petobo, has trouble remembering all of the relatives she’s trying to find in the tangled expanse of mud and debris.

“More than half of my family are gone,” Hasnah said as she sobbed. “I can’t even count how many. Two of my children are gone, my cousins, my sister, my brother in law and their children. All gone.”

Homes were sucked into the earth, torn apart and shunted hundreds of meters by the churning mud.

“The earth was like a blender, blending everything in its way,” said Hasnah, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name.

Rescue team members stand as heavy equipment clear debris to find dead bodis after an earthquake hit Petobo neighbourhood in Palu, Indonesia, October 5, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Rescue team members stand as heavy equipment clear debris to find dead bodis after an earthquake hit Petobo neighbourhood in Palu, Indonesia, October 5, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta


Hasnah said she has enough food and water but she’s furious that a search and rescue operation in her area only began on Thursday.

“They said they would come with the heavy machines but they didn’t,” she said. “They lied.”

Sick of waiting for help, villagers themselves have been searching, Hasnah said.

“We’ve marked the possible bodies with sticks. You can see a foot sticking out, but there’s no one here to dig them out.”

Rescue workers retrieved several bodies later on Friday.

As the sun set, a mass prayer ceremony was held by Palu’s seafront that was scoured by the tsunami.

“We pray for the ones who have died and for those yet to be found,” the imam said. “Allahu Akbar,” or God is Greatest, responded the congregation.

The first signs of recovery are evident in Palu. Electricity has been restored and some shops and banks have reopened and aid and fuel are arriving.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla, visiting the disaster zone, said recovery would be completed in two years, beginning with a two-month emergency response phase when everyone who lost their house would get temporary shelter.

Doctors have been flocking to help from other parts of Indonesia.

A girl carries valuables from the ruins of her house after an earthquake hit the Balaroa sub-district in Palu, Indonesia, October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

A girl carries valuables from the ruins of her house after an earthquake hit the Balaroa sub-district in Palu, Indonesia, October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

The Budi Agung hospital has 134 beds with about 20 more set up in a tent outside, all full. A hospital ship is also due to arrive.

Doctors said many patients have been at high risk of infection because they were buried in mud.

Rescue workers are pushing into outlying districts cut off for days. Villagers rushed a Red Cross helicopter that landed at Sirenja village near the quake’s epicenter, about 75 km (45 miles) north of Palu, to drop off supplies.

Some quake damage was evident but the coast did not appear to have been battered by the tsunami, a Reuters photographer said.

Sulawesi is one of the archipelago nation’s five main islands, and like the others, is exposed to frequent earthquakes and tsunami.

In 2004, a quake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

(Additional reporting by Tom Allard, Ronn Bautista in PALU, Darren Whiteside in SIRENJA, Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Maikel Jefriando, Tabita Diela, Gayatri Suroyo, Fransiska Nangoy, Fanny Potkin, Ed Davies in JAKARTA; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Nick Macfie.)

Special Report: Why ‘higher risk’ human targets get shocked with Tasers

Taylor Wiggington sits with a photo of her father, Doug Wiggington, in the area where he was shocked by a Taser on May 12, 2017, in Greenfield, Indiana, U.S., December 21, 2017.

By Grant Smith, Jason Szep, Peter Eisler, Linda So and Lisa Girion

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The maker of the Taser says the electroshock weapon is the safest tool on a police officer’s belt – with a few caveats.

In pages of warnings, Axon Enterprise Inc advises police to beware that some people are at higher risk of death or serious injury from the weapons. Pregnant women. Young children. Old people. Frail people. People with heart conditions. People on drugs or alcohol. The list goes on.

Taken together, the tally of people particularly susceptible to harm from a Taser’s powerful shock covers nearly a third of the U.S. population, a Reuters analysis of demographic and health data found. Yet police have repeatedly used Tasers on people who fall into the very groups the company warns about.

Dailene Rosario was one of them. Last winter, a New York City police officer fired his Taser’s electrified barbs into the rib cage of Rosario, 17, as she screamed she was pregnant. Thanks to a viral video taken by a bystander, the world watched as Rosario, 14 weeks into her term, crumpled to the ground, wailing.

What happened afterward has not been told.

Rosario’s daughter Raileey survived. But the baby is not faring well. In September, Rosario said, the two-month-old was rushed to the hospital, struggling to breathe after developing tremors and coughing fits. Raileey spent nearly all of November at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, undergoing tests for a possible seizure disorder.

“Now it happens so frequently,” Rosario said of the tremors. “We can only just monitor her and try to keep her relaxed.”

Her lawyer, Scott Rynecki, said he plans to make the baby’s health a central issue in a $5 million legal claim she has filed against the New York Police Department. The NYPD said the incident remains under investigation and declined to comment further.

There’s no telling how often police use Tasers on pregnant women and the other “higher-risk populations” the manufacturer warns about: The stun guns are unregulated as police weapons, and there is no national tracking of their use.

Yet people in those groups account for more than half of the 1,028 cases identified by Reuters in which people died after being shocked by Tasers, often along with other force. Such people, Axon’s warnings say, should be targeted “only if the situation justifies an increased risk” of injury or death.

Particularly vexing for police is the difficulty of determining which potential Taser targets belong to population cohorts deemed to be at increased risk.

Some fatalities examined by Reuters involved people who obviously fell into a higher-risk category. Four, for instance, involved people over 75.

Yet many others involved vulnerabilities difficult to spot, particularly in the chaos of confrontation. Some 245 had a heart condition. And 643 people were drunk or high on drugs – a state often, but not always, easy to identify.

“People don’t walk around with signs” listing their medical conditions, said James Ginger, a former Evansville, Indiana, policeman now working as a consultant and court-appointed monitor of police compliance with judicial orders. The Taser is an important police tool, Ginger said. But if officers avoided anyone who potentially has a higher-risk condition, “you couldn’t use it.”

Axon calls Tasers the “safest force option available to law enforcement.”

The company told Reuters its warnings and training “do not identify any population group as ‘high risk,’ rather, they recognize that certain people may be at increased risk during encounters requiring force, regardless of the force option chosen.”

But the warnings issued to police by Axon, formerly known as Taser International Inc, note explicitly that “some individuals may be particularly susceptible to the effects” of its weapons. They identify an array of “higher-risk populations” and other vulnerable groups.

Law enforcement began embracing Tasers in the early 2000s. The manufacturer began listing higher-risk populations in 2009, when it also warned of possible cardiac effects from shocks to the chest. The list grew in the next few years.

Many in the police community say Tasers nevertheless offer a valuable option for controlling combative subjects without resorting to firearms. “There have been instances where we have saved a person’s life by using this piece of equipment,” said Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera. But as warnings on the weapons’ risks have evolved, he added, the department has “tightened up” on their use.

Axon’s warnings and guidelines are not binding on police departments, and while more than 90 percent of police agencies deploy Tasers, there are no universal standards for usage.

The uncertainty raises a challenge, some in law enforcement say. If large swaths of people are potentially at higher risk of death or serious injury from a Taser, how can police ever be sure the weapons are safe to use?

Nearly 80 percent of the population could fit into one of the higher risk groups identified by Taser’s maker, Reuters’ analysis shows. For example, any woman of childbearing age – about 20 percent of the population – could be pregnant. Any adult male could have impaired heart function, another third of the populace.

Police often have mere seconds to weigh such factors, said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a think tank that advises police on policy issues, including use-of-force. As a result, he said, “the Taser may be the most complicated weapon that a police officer wears today.”


Michael Mears, 39, was found on the floor in a hallway at his Los Angeles apartment complex on Christmas Eve 2014, bloodied and crying: “Help me. Help me.”

The police called to help the disabled veteran shocked him repeatedly with a Taser.

Mears had a vulnerability the officers couldn’t see: an enlarged heart.

In 2009, the manufacturer introduced the possibility that Taser shocks could affect the heart. By Christmas 2014, it had warned that “serious complications could also arise in those with impaired heart function.”

That didn’t protect Mears, nor many others like him. Of the 750 Taser-involved deaths in which Reuters obtained autopsy information, 245 involved people with pre-existing heart problems. And of the 159 cases in which coroners ruled the Taser shock caused or contributed to the death, 68, or 43 percent, involved cardiac conditions.

Mears grew up in Florida and joined the Marines after high school. At 19, he helped evacuate United Nations troops from Somalia in 1995.

He injured his back in a shipboard fall two years later, said his mother, Joanna Wysocki. Surgery to repair his spine instead left him unable to walk. After years of rehabilitation, he had begun to walk again. But he often lost feeling in his weakened legs and needed a walker or wheelchair.

Wysocki said she talked to her son by phone the morning of his death, and he was excited about having friends over for Christmas Eve dinner. But that afternoon, he began acting strangely, court records show.

He rolled a candlestick across the floor as if he were throwing a grenade, and then ran out of the apartment. A neighbor peeked through a door and saw him lying on the floor, crying for help, she told detectives. Mears was covered in blood from rolling in shards of glass from a broken fire extinguisher case.

“He has PTSD,” a friend told the paramedics who arrived. Several LAPD officers followed. The first two hit Mears with pepper spray and batons because, the autopsy report said, he appeared combative.

The Taser’s log shows Mears was shocked six times totaling 53 seconds over three minutes. The longest: 32 seconds. Taser guidelines advise officers to avoid “repeated, prolonged or continuous” shocks, noting that safety testing typically involved no more than 15 seconds of exposure.

The officer who stunned Mears testified he believed he was applying 5-second shocks and had no idea his Taser delivered electricity for as long as he held the trigger. The LAPD declined to discuss the case or make the officer available for comment.

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner ruled Mears’ death a homicide, concluding that cocaine and police efforts to restrain him, including the Taser shocks, were too much for his heart.

His parents sued the city. Jurors blamed the city for being “deliberately indifferent” to officer training and awarded them $5.5 million.

Mears died Christmas morning, while his mother was flying from Florida. “I’ll never get to say goodbye,” she said.


Sometimes, the vulnerabilities are more obvious.

There was no mistaking Stanley Downen was elderly when Columbia Falls police answered a call from the Montana Veterans’ Home for help with a wandering resident in June 2012. Downen, 77 with advanced Alzheimer’s, was just outside the gate, circled by several staffers urging him to come back inside.

A retired ironworker and Navy vet, Downen had scooped up landscaping rocks, one as big as a softball, and was threatening to throw them at anyone who came near. Officers Mike Johnson and Gary Stanberry approached, asking him to put down the rocks.

Downen cursed at the officers and said he wanted to go home.

They tried again; same response.

Johnson drew his Taser and fired. He later testified that Downen had reared back as if to throw one of the rocks. “I believed that I was going to be physically harmed.”

Paralyzed by the Taser’s electrified darts, Downen’s body seized and he fell forward, his head smacking the pavement. Handcuffed, he continued cursing and struggling.

Downen was taken to a nearby hospital, but his dementia worsened. He died there three weeks later.

Axon has warned since 2008 about using its weapons on “elderly” people and advises that doing so “could increase the risk of death or serious injury.” A model Taser policy from the Police Executive Research Forum includes similar warnings.

But neither designates an age threshold for “elderly,” and dozens of police department policies reviewed by Reuters specify no age limit.

Reuters identified 13 cases in which people 65 and older – the eligibility age for Medicare – died after being stunned by police with Tasers. All but two occurred well after the manufacturer’s first warnings.

By the time Columbia Falls police confronted Stanley Downen in 2012, the warnings had been in place for years. Officer Johnson later testified he never saw them.

In depositions and court records from a lawsuit filed by Tamara Downen, Stanley’s granddaughter, Johnson and the police department acknowledged he had not been trained or certified on Taser use since 2006 – two years before the manufacturer first warned against shocking the elderly. Officers are supposed to be re-trained and certified on the weapons annually, according to guidelines from the manufacturer and independent law enforcement groups.

The department also had no formal policy on Taser use, court records show, and its procedures manual never mentioned the weapon.

Tamara Downen sued the state-run nursing home and city police, alleging unsafe practices and improper Taser use in her grandfather’s death. “It just wasn’t right, what he went through,” she said. The city settled for $150,000; the state for $20,000.

Columbia Falls later hired a new police chief, Clint Peters. Citing the litigation, he declined to comment on the case or make the officers available for interviews. But he said the force now has a Taser policy based on guidelines from national law enforcement groups.


Axon has warned since 2005 that people agitated or intoxicated by drugs may face higher risks of medical consequences from Tasers’ electrical current. Data collected by Reuters underline that risk: More than 60 percent of 1,028 people who died in police confrontations involving Tasers were either drunk or on drugs.

Some who died were unmistakably intoxicated – like Doug Wiggington.

In Greenfield, Indiana, last May 12, Wiggington stumbled out of the local Elks Lodge just after 6 p.m., falling as he walked near a two-lane highway. James Fornoff, 74, called police. “He had no clue what he was doing,” Fornoff said.

When the first officer arrived at 6:27 p.m., Wiggington, 48, was lying in the grass, wiggling his feet, police dash-cam videos showed. “What have you taken?” Officer Dillon Silver asked.

As officer Rodney Vawter joined him, Silver rolled Wiggington onto his side, patting him down. Silver began to pull him onto his back but Wiggington stiffened. Silver grabbed his arm, saying, “Do not tense up on me.” Wiggington, 6 feet and 230 pounds, rolled onto his stomach.

“Tase him,” said Silver. Vawter pulled the trigger and the barbs struck Wiggington’s back. He writhed and grunted. “I’m going to do it again if you don’t listen!” Vawter said. The struggle continued. Vawter fired again.

When the officers turned him over, Wiggington was unconscious. They gave him two shots of Narcan, an overdose antidote for opioids, and started CPR. When the ambulance arrived, Wiggington had no pulse. Thirty minutes later, he was pronounced dead.

The autopsy said Wiggington died from “acute cocaine and methamphetamine intoxication.” The Taser was listed first among contributing factors.

“We have a lot of unanswered questions,” said Wiggington’s daughter, Brittany, 30, who has filed legal notice of her intent to sue the department.

By the time Wiggington was shocked, the company’s training materials had noted explicitly for years that Tasers cause “physiologic and/or metabolic effects that may increase the risk of death or serious injury” – and drug users “may be particularly susceptible.”

None of that language appeared in the Greenfield Police Department’s Taser policy at the time. The officer who shocked Wigginton, Vawter, hadn’t been re-certified on the Taser in more than three years.

Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasche said the two officers did not violate department policy and were cleared by an internal investigation and a separate state probe. Axon, he added, does not explicitly bar using the weapon on people under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but instead warns of the risks.

Rasche, chief since last January, said he had ordered his 42 officers to undergo a six-hour Taser re-certification class before the death. At the time of the incident, nine had completed it. Vawter wasn’t among them.

Since the death, Rasche has ordered all officers to undergo “crisis intervention training,” emphasizing de-escalation strategies in lieu of using force such as Tasers.

“We can’t just do the same thing we’ve been doing forever because it’s not working,” the chief said. “People are unfortunately dying and officers are having to use lethal force when they, you know, probably shouldn’t be.”


At any given time, 6 percent of women of childbearing age are pregnant. But, in the early stages, the signs of pregnancy are rarely obvious.

Since 2003, Axon has warned that pregnant women are at particular risk of injury from falls after being shocked. Still, the company suggested then that the weapons’ electrical charge posed no other special risks to women or fetuses. In 2004, it cited lab tests in which an electric charge was delivered to the abdomens of pregnant pigs with “no adverse effect on fetuses.”

In 2009, Axon identified pregnant women as a “higher risk population.” By 2011, news reports described nearly a dozen women who had suffered miscarriages or other pregnancy complications after stun-gun shocks.

Definitively measuring the risks of shocking a pregnant woman is impossible: There has never been a controlled study of the Taser’s effects on pregnant women. Such tests, by their nature, are too risky to undertake.

Yet since electricity is a known cardiac hazard, doctors theorize it poses some risk.

“There may be an instantaneous fetal effect when the Taser discharges, but you may not know about that until when he is a small child,” said Michael Cackovic, an obstetrician who heads the maternal cardiac disease program at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Cackovic said risks from a Taser shock include disrupting the flow of oxygen from the mother, potential fatal cardiac arrhythmia, damage affecting the brain and other problems that may emerge years after birth.

No government authorities track miscarriages or other problems linked to pregnant women stunned by Tasers. A Reuters review of court filings and news articles found 19 incidents of women stunned while pregnant, at least 11 of which were followed by a miscarriage, since 2001.

One such case played out on a hot August morning in Lima, Ohio, in 2016. Brittany Osberry, 24, stumbled into a crime scene as she pulled into her friend’s driveway to pick up her nieces and nephews. Police were monitoring the home because they mistakenly thought a suspect in a shooting may be inside. Within seconds, three officers swarmed her car.

“You need to leave!” officer Mark Frysinger shouted, gun drawn, the altercation captured on a neighbor’s cellphone. “This is a crime scene.”

When she asked why, Frysinger accused her of disorderly conduct and told her to leave again. She protested: She wanted first to pick up the children. The officers moved in. “Show me your hands,” Frysinger yelled, pulling her from the car. Three officers pushed her up against the door.

“You all better know I’m pregnant,” she shouted. “You all better know that.”

One officer put her in a choke-hold and lifted the 104-pound woman back so high the tips of her toes touched the driveway. Another officer, Zane Slusher, drove a Taser into her abdomen. “Oh my God!” she screamed.

In an incident report, police said Osberry was combative and struck an officer – assertions a federal judge said were “not conclusively” borne out by the video. Osberry was arrested for obstructing official business, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and assault. The charges were later dismissed. No official reason was given.

Within hours, she said, she felt stomach cramps. A month later, ultrasounds couldn’t detect the baby’s heartbeat. Other tests found a beating heart, but her doctors identified another problem: Osberry was suffering from preeclampsia, a dangerous spike in blood pressure during pregnancy that can interfere with blood flow to the placenta and fetus.

She underwent tests twice a week. The fetus wasn’t gaining weight.

Then, that New Year’s Eve, with Osberry 30 weeks pregnant, her doctor said the baby was coming. Contractions began and the baby’s heartbeat plunged, she said. On the way to the hospital, she wept, “not knowing if I would lose him.”

Kannon was born at 2 pounds, 2 ounces and stayed at the hospital nearly two months. Today, he’s generally healthy but struggles to use his left leg; doctors aren’t sure if he’ll face long-term developmental problems.

In February, Osberry filed suit against Lima Police and the officers involved. The department said it had “probable cause” to arrest her and cited “qualified immunity,” a concept providing legal protection to officers unless police violate “clearly established’’ legal principles.

In November, a federal judge rejected the department’s attempt to have the case dismissed. Lima Police have appealed the ruling.

“Given the factual allegations, I am hard-pressed to imagine a scenario less deserving of qualified immunity,” wrote U.S. District Judge James Carr. A “reasonable officer,” he said, should know not to use a Taser on a “non-resisting pregnant woman.”

(Reported by Grant Smith, Jason Szep, Peter Eisler, Linda So and Lisa Girion. Editing by Ronnie Greene)

Quake kills two on Italian holiday island, young brothers saved

Quake kills two on Italian holiday island, young brothers saved

By Gabriele Pileri and Philip Pullella

CASAMICCIOLA, Italy (Reuters) – An earthquake hit the tourist-packed holiday island of Ischia on Monday night, killing two people, injuring dozens and trapping three young brothers who survived for up to 16 hours before being rescued.

Tourists and residents on the island off the coast of Naples ran out onto the narrow streets after the quake wrecked a church and several buildings. Fearing aftershocks, many decided to leave the island early.

Rescuers found a baby boy called Pasquale in the wreckage and pulled him out alive in his nappy early on Tuesday, seven hours after the shock. There was a hush followed by loud applause.

Fire crews found his brothers Mattia and Ciro, aged seven and 11, stuck under a bed nearby. They kept talking to them and fed water to them through a tube.

“I promised them that after this was all over we would all go get a pizza together,” one emergency worker said on Italian television.

They freed Mattia late on Tuesday morning and later extracted Ciro more than 16 hours after the quake hit. The parents were safe because they were in another room.

They said Ciro had probably saved his brother’s life by shoving him under the bed when the quake struck.

“The rescuers were great. We really have to thank God for this miracle,” said the island’s bishop, Pietro Lagnese.

About six buildings in the town of Casamicciola, including a church, collapsed in the quake, which hit at 8:57 p.m. (1857 GMT) on Monday. The walls of one were ripped open, exposing a kitchen with a table still set for dinner.

Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology put the magnitude at 4.0, revising it up from an initial 3.6, but both the U.S. Geological Survey and the European quake agency estimated it at 4.3.

It struck three days before the first anniversary of a major quake that killed nearly 300 people in central Italy, most of them in the town of Amatrice.

Rescue workers check a collapsed house after an earthquake hit the island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples, Italy August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

Rescue workers check a collapsed house after an earthquake hit the island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples, Italy August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca


The director of the island’s hospital said two women were killed and about 40 injured. One of the victims was hit by falling masonry from the church of Santa Maria del Suffragio, the Civil Protection Department in Rome said.

The church was rebuilt after it, like most of Casamicciola, was destroyed by an earthquake that killed about 2,000 people in 1883.

Most of the damage was in the high part of the volcanic island. Hotels and residences on the coast did not appear to suffer serious damage but fire brigades were checking to see if they were still habitable.

The island has a year-round population of about 63,000, which swells to more than 200,000 in summer, with many people from the mainland owning holiday homes.

Civil Protection Department head Angelo Borrelli said about 2,600 people could not re-enter their homes, pending checks.

Helicopters and a ferry boat brought in more rescue workers from the mainland. Some civil protection squads were already on the island because of brushfires.

Three extra ferries were provided during the night for about 1,000 residents and tourists who wanted to leave. As daylight broke, dozens of people went to the island’s ports, having decided to end their vacations early.

Many who were due to take ferries from Naples on the mainland to start their vacations canceled their plans, local officials said.

Ischia, about a one-hour ride from Naples, is popular with German tourists, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has stayed there often.

Rescue workers carry a child after an earthquake hit the island of Ischia, in Naples, Italy August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

Rescue workers carry a child after an earthquake hit the island of Ischia, in Naples, Italy August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

(Philip Pullella reported from Rome; writing by Philip Pullella; Editing by Nick Macfie and Mark Trevelyan)

Baby girl ‘teargassed, beaten by Kenyan police’ dies: doctor

Lenzer, mother of six month-old Samantha Pendo, stands next to her bed as the girl remains in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit of Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu, Kenya August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

By Maggie Fick

KISUMU, Kenya (Reuters) – A six-month-old girl has died in Kenya, her doctor told Reuters on Tuesday, after her parents said she was teargassed and clubbed by police in a security crackdown after last week’s disputed election.

Samantha Pendo was asleep in her mother’s arms when police forced their way into their home and beat her and her parents as they searched for protesters, her parents said.

“She remained in coma throughout. She never improved one bit,” said Dr. Sam Oula at the Aga Khan Hospital in the western city of Kisumu.

The baby and her parents were beaten when police were sweeping their neighborhood for opposition protesters on Saturday, residents told Reuters journalists who investigated the incident.

Kisumu is a stronghold of opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is contesting results from last Tuesday’s presidential election. An official tally said President Uhuru Kenyatta won re-election by 1.4 million votes.

Odinga’s accusations of rigging have led to protests in Kisumu and in Nairobi slums. Residents there say police have responded with lethal force and many residents were killed in their homes.

Among the dead are an 8-year-old girl, hit by a stray bullet as she played on her balcony, and an 18-year-old student whose mother said was pulled from under the bed and beaten so badly he died the next day.

Police have promised to investigate all incidents but human rights groups say they rarely hold officers to account for extrajudicial killings.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Charlie Gard, ‘beautiful little boy’ at heart of dispute, dies

Charlie Gard's parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard read a statement at the High Court after a hearing on their baby's future, in London. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

By William James and Fanny Potkin

LONDON (Reuters) – Charlie Gard, a British baby who became the subject of a bitter dispute between his parents and doctors over whether he should be taken to the United States for experimental treatment, has died, local media said on Friday.

The 11-month-old baby suffered from an extremely rare genetic condition causing progressive brain damage and muscle weakness, and his parents’ long struggle to save him drew an international outpouring of sympathy, including from U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis.

“Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie,” Connie Yates, the baby’s mother, was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

Local media said a family spokesman had confirmed the death.

“Everyone at Great Ormond Street Hospital sends their heartfelt condolences to Charlie’s parents and loved-ones at this very sad time,” said a spokeswoman for the hospital, where Charlie had been receiving treatment

After a harrowing legal battle that prompted a global debate over who has the moral right to decide the fate of a sick child, a judge on Thursday ordered that Charlie be moved to a hospice where the ventilator that keeps him alive would be turned off.

Yates and the baby’s father Chris Gard had wanted Charlie to undergo a treatment that has never been tried on anyone with his condition before, against the advice of doctors at his London hospital who said it would not benefit him and would prolong his suffering.

Charlie required a ventilator to breathe and was unable to see, hear or swallow.

The case drew comment from Trump, who tweeted on July 3 that “we would be delighted” to help Charlie, and from Pope Francis, who called for the parents to be allowed to do everything possible to treat their child.

Britain’s courts, after hearing a wealth of medical evidence, ruled that it would go against Charlie’s best interests to have the experimental nucleoside therapy advocated by a U.S. professor of neurology, Michio Hirano.

The case prompted heated debate on social media and in the press on medical ethics, and staff at the Great Ormond Street Hospital which treated him received abuse and death threats.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that he was saddened to hear of Charlie’s death. He has previously referred to the case in the context of the U.S. healthcare debate, saying it offered a warning of the risks of state-funded healthcare.

(Additional reporting by Estelle Shirbon and David Milliken; Editing by Gareth Jones)

First editing of human embryos carried out in United States

(Reuters) – Technology that allows alteration of genes in a human embryo has been used for the first time in the United States, according to Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland, which carried out the research.

The OHSU research is believed to have broken new ground both in the number of embryos experimented upon and by demonstrating it is possible to safely and efficiently correct defective genes that cause inherited diseases, according to Technology Review, which first reported the news.

None of the embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days, according to the report.

Some countries have signed a convention prohibiting the practice on concerns it could be used to create so-called designer babies.

Results of the peer-reviewed study are expected to be published soon in a scientific journal, according to OHSU spokesman Eric Robinson.

The research, led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, head of OHSU’s Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy, involves a technology known as CRISPR that has opened up new frontiers in genetic medicine because of its ability to modify genes quickly and efficiently.

CRISPR works as a type of molecular scissors that can selectively trim away unwanted parts of the genome, and replace it with new stretches of DNA.

Scientists in China have published similar studies with mixed results.

In December 2015, scientists and ethicists at an international meeting held at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington said it would be “irresponsible” to use gene editing technology in human embryos for therapeutic purposes, such as to correct genetic diseases, until safety and efficacy issues are resolved.

But earlier this year, NAS and the National Academy of Medicine said scientific advances make gene editing in human reproductive cells “a realistic possibility that deserves serious consideration.”

(Reporting By Deena Beasley; Editing by Michael Perry)

Parents of UK baby Charlie Gard agree to let him die

By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) – The parents of Charlie Gard dropped their legal battle to give the terminally ill British baby further treatment on Monday and will now hold discussions with his London hospital about how he should be allowed to die.

Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates, who won the support of U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis with a campaign to keep him alive, said 11-month-old Charlie could have lived a normal life if he had been given treatment earlier.

“This is the hardest thing we’ll ever have to do,” she said in London’s High Court where a judge had been due to hear final arguments as to why a hospital should not turn off the boy’s life support.

“We have decided it is no longer in his best interests to pursue treatment,” Yates said. “We have decided to let our son go … Charlie did have a real chance of getting better. Now we will never know what would have happened if he got treatment.”

Charlie has a rare genetic condition causing progressive muscle weakness and brain damage. His parents had sought to send him to the United States to undergo experimental therapy.

Britain’s courts, backed by the European Court of Human Rights, refused permission, saying it would prolong his suffering without any realistic prospect of helping the child.

Lawyer Grant Armstrong, speaking in the High Court, said the parents had dropped their legal fight for Charlie to continue to receive treatment because scans showed that the child suffered irreversible damage.

“For Charlie, it’s too late, time has run out. Irreversible muscular damage has been done and the treatment can no longer be a success,” he said.

“Charlie has waited patiently for treatment. Due to delay, that window of opportunity has been lost.”

The judge hearing the case, Nicholas Francis, said no parents could have done more for their child.

Francis had been due to preside over a final two-day hearing after which he would have decided whether the boy’s parents could take Charlie to the United States for treatment by Michio Hirano, a professor of neurology at New York’s Columbia University Medical Center.

Hirano had said he believed there was at least a 10 percent chance his nucleoside therapy could improve the condition of Charlie, who cannot breathe without a ventilator, and that there was a “small but significant” chance it would help aid brain functions.


(Reporting by Michael Holden; Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Alison Williams)


Puerto Rico declares Zika outbreak over, CDC maintains travel warning

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen at the Laboratory of Entomology and Ecology of the Dengue Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Alvin Baez/File Photo

By Julie Steenhuysen

(Reuters) – Puerto Rico on Monday declared that the 2016 Zika epidemic is over, saying transmission of the virus that can cause birth defects when pregnant women are exposed has fallen significantly.

About 10 cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been reported in each four-week period since April 2017, down from more than 8,000 cases reported in a four-week period at the peak of the epidemic in August 2016, the Puerto Rico Health Department said in a statement.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, has not changed its travel advice, noting that pregnant women should not travel to Puerto Rico.

The CDC said its travel notice for Puerto Rico remains in place and that it expects the virus will continue to “circulate indefinitely” in most regions where it has been introduced.

The Department of Health and Human Services declaration of a public health emergency in Puerto Rico relating to pregnant women and children born to women with the virus remains in effect, the CDC said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.

On its website, the CDC cites public health reports saying that “mosquitoes in Puerto Rico are infected with Zika virus and are spreading it to people.”

CDC acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said in a statement that she is “pleased that the peak of the Zika outbreak in Puerto Rico has come to a close.” However, she said, “We cannot let our guard down.”

Schuchat said CDC will continue to focus on protecting pregnant women and work closely with the Puerto Rican health department to support Zika surveillance and prevention efforts on the island, which is a U.S. territory.

A major outbreak of Zika began in Brazil in 2015 and spread rapidly to dozens of countries. There is no treatment for Zika, but private companies and governments are working on a vaccine.

In addition to Puerto Rico, the CDC has warned of a risk of Zika infection for travelers going to Mexico, Cuba, most of the Caribbean and South America, as well as parts of Africa and Southeast Asia.

Locally transmitted Zika cases have also been reported in Texas and Florida.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Jonathan Oatis)

Scientists develop fluid-filled artificial womb to help premature babies

An artists impression shows a lamb inside a fluid-filled womb-like bag known as an extra-uterine support device developed by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.MANDATORY CREDIT Children's Hospital of Philadelphia handout via REUTERS

By Kate Kelland

LONDON, (Reuters) – Scientists in the United States have developed a fluid-filled womb-like bag known as an extra-uterine support device that could transform care for extremely premature babies, significantly improving chances of survival.

In pre-clinical studies with lambs, the researchers were able to mimic the womb environment and the functions of the placenta, giving premature offspring a crucial opportunity to develop their lungs and other organs.

Around 30,000 babies in the United States alone are born critically early – at between 23 and 26 weeks of gestation, the researchers told reporters in a telephone briefing.

At that age, a human baby weighs little more than 500 grams, its lungs are not able to cope with air and its chances of survival are low. Death rates are up to 70 percent and those who do survive face life-long disability.

“These infants have an urgent need for a bridge between the mother’s womb and the outside world,” said Alan Flake, a specialist surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who led the development of the new device.

His team’s aim, he said, was to develop an extra-uterine system where extremely premature babies can be suspended in fluid-filled chambers for a vital few weeks to bring them over the 28-week threshold, when their life chances are dramatically improved.

It could take up to another 10 years, but by then he hopes to have a licensed device in which babies born very prematurely are given the chance to develop in fluid-filled chambers, rather than lying in incubators being artificially ventilated.

“This system is potentially far superior to what hospitals can currently do for a 23-week-old baby born at the cusp of viability,” Flake said. “This could establish a new standard of care for this subset of extremely premature infants.”

The team spent three years evolving their system through a series of four prototypes – beginning with a glass incubator tank and progressing to the current fluid-filled bag.

Six preterm lambs tested in the most recent prototype were physiologically equivalent to a 23- or 24-week-gestation human baby and were able to grow in a temperature-controlled, near-sterile environment, Flake said.

The scientists made amniotic fluid in their lab and set up the system so that this flowed into and out of the bag.

Lung development in fetal lambs is very similar in humans, said fetal physiologist Marcus Davey, who worked on team.

“Fetal lungs are designed to function in fluid. We simulate that environment … allowing the lungs and other organs to develop while supplying nutrients and growth factors,” he said.

Flake said the success of the system, details of which were published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, was due to its mimicking life in the uterus as closely as possible.

It has no external pump to drive circulation, because even gentle artificial pressure can fatally overload an underdeveloped heart, and there is no ventilator, because the immature lungs are not yet ready to breathe air.

Instead, the baby’s heart pumps blood via the umbilical cord into a low-resistance oxygenator that acts as a substitute for the placenta in exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Flake’s team plans to refine the system further and then downsize it for human infants, who are around a third of the size of the lambs used in the study.

(Editing by Tom Heneghan)