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Girl, 2, survives ‘drastic’ surgery to reconstruct her skull




When a two-year-old girl arrived in Quebec with a skull nearly the size of a basketball, doctors knew they had a rare case on their hands.

Doctors don’t often see such extreme cases of hydrocephalus in North America, where health practitioners typically intervene earlier. 

In the case of this little girl, so much fluid had accumulated in her brain that it had forced her cranium to become deformed and grow abnormally large. Her head was so heavy that she was unable to lift it on her own. There was a risk of her neck snapping under the weight. And there was pressure building up in her cranium.

Using a 3D-printed model, some 210 screws and a black pen, surgeons undertook a risky 12-hour operation to reduce the size of the toddler’s skull and allow her brain to grow.

The child, whom CBC News has agreed not to name to protect the family’s privacy, was born in a country in North Africa and arrived in Quebec last year.

The damage to her brain is certainly major.– Dr. Alexander  Weil , pediatric neurosurgeon

Montreal surgeons examined her and discovered her cranium was filled with about three litres of fluid (roughly 20 times the amount in a healthy adult) and had grown to 71 centimetres in circumference.

Pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Alexander Weil placed an internal shunt in her brain to help drain the excess fluid. 

But the effect was minimal.

“It was like sticking a straw in a pool,” said Weil, of Montreal’s Sainte-Justine Hospital. 

The surgery at Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal lasted 12 hours. (Radio-Canada)

In addition to her physical limitations, the two-year-old had developmental delays because her brain had atrophied under the pressure of the excess liquid, to the point its volume was 80 per cent less than a normal one for her age.

“The damage to her brain is certainly major,” Weil said.

While no surgery would be able to fully restore the child’s neurological functions, Weil was sure he could give her a better life.

But it would take what he called a “drastic procedure” to reduce the size of her skull.

The plan was to take apart her skull and then piece it back together — like a puzzle — to make it smaller.

CBC/Radio-Canada’s French-language TV program Découverte had exclusive access to the operating room during the procedure.

No guarantees 

Weil teamed up with plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Borsuk, as well as engineers in a lab in Michigan, to prepare for the challenging procedure.

Before entering the operating room, the team created a 3D virtual mock-up of how the skull could be reconstructed.

“We took the skull of the patient, we put it in [virtual ] pieces, and we found the best way to reduce the volume and the shape of the skull using those pieces,” Borsuk explained.

The Quebec surgeons teamed up with engineers in Michigan, who helped them prepare a virtual mock-up of the skull reconstruction. (Radio-Canada)

The surgeons’ plan was to reduce the size of the girl’s cranium by 60 per cent.

“It would be impossible to make the shape of the skull normal. That’s not our goal. Our goal is to give this child the best chance at having as normal a life as possible,” Weil said.

“Will the operation guarantee that? Definitely not. But it will definitely increase her chances.”

No room for error 

On November 5 at 11:05 a.m. Borsuk prepared for the first incision. Despite all the preparations, there were still plenty of risks.

The first step was to make an incision from one ear to the other, to expose the skull.

This cutting guide — which looks like a plastic helmet — was created on a computer and printed in 3D to help the surgeons in the risky procedure. (Radio-Canada)

When they cut through the child’s skull, the surgeons had to be careful to not hit blood vessels directly beneath. Any obstruction or damage to the brain’s superior sagittal sinus — which allows the brain’s hemispheres to drain — could cause cerebral hemorrhaging.

Once the skin was removed and the skull exposed, something that looked like a plastic helmet was brought over to the operating table.

It was the key to the entire procedure — a cutting guide, created on a computer several weeks earlier by the American engineers, and printed in 3D.

The surgeons used the guide and a black pen to trace the path they would cut, dividing the top half of child’s skull into 12 pieces. As each piece was cut, it was placed on an adjacent table, where all 12 pieces would later be reassembled into a new, smaller skull.

After several hours, the girl’s brain was fully exposed.

That’s when the riskiest part of the procedure began: draining the fluid.

Weil removed the liquid slowly, at a speed of about 10 millilitres per minute, or about half a litre per hour. Moving any faster would have posed unnecessary risk.

The two-year-old recovers in intensive care after doctors took apart and reconstructed her skull. With her are surgeons Dr. Daniel Borsuk, left, and Dr. Alexander Weil, right. (Radio-Canada)

Weil said he was able to remove about half of the liquid that had accumulated, about one and a half litres.

“For us, the worry is that if we take away too much liquid all at once, it will greatly increase the complications and risk of complications,” he said.

The final step was to place the reconstructed skull back on the girl’s brain. To fix it in place, the team used 210 screws, which will degrade in the span of a year and be absorbed by the body.

The operation lasted 12 hours, and the child was taken to intensive care to recover.

Two weeks later, an MRI confirmed the surgery was a success: her brain had nearly doubled in volume.

Now that the girl’s brain was unburdened from the excess fluid, her surgeons have hope the child’s neural networks will reorganize themselves, and that she’ll some day be able to play like other kids her age.


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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high




(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine




(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states




In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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