Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.
News features on organ transplants often focus on a specific success story. But there’s far more under the surface when it comes to the issue of organ donation and policies surrounding them.
David Wahlberg of the Wisconsin State Journal took a deep dive into this, producing a nine-part in-depth series that examined several different angles. His work picked up a first place Award for Excellence in Health Care Journalism in 2015 in the Health Policy (small) category.
Wahlberg focused on three aspects of organ transplantation: allocation, deceased donation and living donation. Continue reading →
Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Amanda Mills (2011)
In the wake of criticism following the June attack at a gay nightclub in Florida, U.S. regulators are taking another look at the blood donation policy for gay men.
In a Federal Register notice, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration called for public comments about its donation policy, which calls on gay men to defer giving blood for a year following their last sexual encounter.
“The FDA said it was establishing a public docket for comment about its current recommendations and that interested people should submit comments, backed by scientific evidence, supporting alternative potential policies to reduce the risk of HIV transmission,” Reuters’ Toni Clarke reported on July 26. The agency is taking comments until Nov. 25. Continue reading →
Last month’s shooting in Orlando in drew attention not only to the city’s gay community but also to limits in how the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community there could respond when it comes to what many do in the aftermath of such tragedies – give blood.
The shooting at the gay nightclub left 49 victims dead. Many in the community sought to donate blood only to run into U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations that call for sexually active gay men to wait a year after their last sexual encounter before giving blood. Continue reading →
AHCJ member Sabrina Rubin Erdely won a 2010 Clarion Award [press release] from the Association for Women in Communications for her piece in Self magazine about bone marrow donation. The award also cites AHCJ member Sara Austin, who is the magazines features director, news and health.
The story, of a bone marrow donor meeting the young woman whose life she helped save, is an arresting one, but the piece’s real strength is its focus on the mechanics of such donations. From the unlikely match to the surprisingly non-invasive extraction, Erdely uses the women’s story to demystify an otherwise intimidating process.
The piece is filled with moments like this, which cause less informed readers (like myself), to read the paragraph again just to make sure we’re understanding it right.
Say the words bone marrow transplant to anyone and the first reaction is probably a wince. “People imagine drilling through bone and pain and a long recovery,” says Katharina Harf, executive vice president and cofounder of the donor-recruitment organization DKMS Americas in New York City. In fact, nearly three quarters of so-called bone marrow donations involve no removal whatsoever of bone marrow—they’re done by extracting blood stem cells intravenously from the arm, like giving plasma. (Some doctors now prefer the term “stem cell transplant,” because both marrow and blood house these vital cells.)