Stephen’s Story

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Stephen Sutton is an amazing teenager from Burntwood, a town close to where I live. He’s 19 and wanted to be a doctor like me, but sadly he developed bowel cancer when he was 15. Despite everything he carried on with his education, getting amazing A level results, and applying to Cambridge to study medicine. However, just after his interviews he found out his cancer was incurable, but instead of feeling sorry for himself he decided to make the most of the time he had left. In just over a year he has done some really amazing and inspirational things, including giving a speech at 10 Downing Street, appearing as an extra in an episode of Doctors, skydiving, breaking a world record and raising over £2 million for his charity, The Teenage Cancer Trust. You can read a lot more about him on Facebook or his website, www.stephensstory.co.uk here, and if you feel inspired to make a difference, then please donate to his charity today and help him reach his new target of £5 million.

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Live Below the Line Challenge for Malaria No More 2014

Tomorrow I’ll be living on £1 a day for all of my food and drink as part of a global challenge, Live Below the Line, to end extreme poverty.

Live below the line

My brother, Joe, caught malaria while we were living in Malawi, but fortunately he recovered after being given the right treatment. I’m doing this challenge so that other children can also receive life-saving treatment for malaria. No parent should lose their child to a disease that is easy to prevent and costs £1 to treat. Malaria is a leading cause of child deaths and poverty in Africa, but together we can make malaria no more. You can sponsor me by donating to Malaria No More here.

This is all of my food for the week, which cost £4.82.

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I bought a bag of pasta for all my lunches, a bag of rice for my dinners, 2 tins of tomatoes, a tin of tuna, a tin of kidney beans, a tin of sweetcorn, and a packet of mushrooms to mix together with the rice and pasta. I also bought a tin of peaches and a pot of natural yoghurt for puddings and a bar of chocolate, and I shall be having a pitta bread for breakfast with a free egg from our chickens. I’ll only be able to drink water as I didn’t have enough money for tea or milk. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford any fresh fruit as they only sell packs of 5 or 6 which cost too much. I think I’ll have plenty to eat, but it will get pretty boring. At least it’s only for 5 days though…

New vaccine against Malaria

I heard on the radio this morning that trials of a new malaria vaccine in several African countries have shown really positive results. I also read an article in the Guardian which explained that 941 cases of malaria were averted for every 1000 children vaccinated and that the vaccine against malaria could be introduced into some of the world’s worst-hit countries in 2015.

This is really exciting news because malaria is such a huge problem with about 219 million cases worldwide and about 660,000 deaths every year so a vaccine will help to save many lives, along with existing preventions and treatment. This vaccine against malaria has also broken new medical ground as the first vaccine against a parasite, so it could lead to developments against other parasites too.

Latest research on the long-term effects of malaria

Chris Moxon, clinical lecturer at Liverpool University, has just published a study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases that shows there may be a link between repeated bouts of malaria in children and a greater likelihood of them becoming ill later in life with other illnesses like cardiovascular disease (read more in this LSTM article).

This is because their blood vessels become inflamed when they have malaria, and they may remain inflamed throughout their life making them leaky and susceptible to blocking with fat. He suggests the possibility of treating the children with statins in the future to help reduce the inflammation, and prevent further disease.

I was particularly interested in this study which was carried out on 190 children in Blantyre, Malawi, because I used to live there, and my brother also caught malaria while we were there.

 

Kidney checks could save lives

I was really interested in the news here  and here about kidney checks saving around 12,000 lives a year, as I just spent a week at Southampton and Portsmouth hospitals shadowing consultant nephrologist, Kirsty Armstrong. Lydia Spilner’s life could have been saved if her acute kidney injury (AKI) had been prevented through the provision of basic clinical care, such as hydration. You can read more about her case here.

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