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Published: Friday, July 07, 2017 @ 2:16 PM
Updated: Friday, July 07, 2017 @ 12:06 AM
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio is following a mandatory checklist for putting inmates to death as it prepares for the state's first execution in more than three years, a prisons agency official said.
The state wouldn't release documents related to those checkups to The Associated Press, saying open records law shields such information.
"We can confirm, however, that to date all steps of Ohio's execution protocol have been complied with in preparation of the execution scheduled later this month," JoEllen Smith, prisons department spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Ronald Phillips, who was convicted of raping and killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in 1993 in Akron, is scheduled to die July 26. It's his third execution date of the year following earlier reprieves to allow legal arguments over the drugs Ohio plans to use.
In a significant ruling, a federal appeals court last month opened the door to Phillips' execution and others by permitting Ohio's use of a contested sedative.
That drug, midazolam, was used previously in problematic executions in Ohio, Arizona and Arkansas in which inmates didn't appear fully sedated before other drugs kicked in.
Attorneys for death row inmates fell short in attempts to prove that "Ohio's protocol is 'sure or very likely' to cause serious pain," the appeals court said in an 8-6 ruling.
An appeal of that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court is expected.
Phillips, 43, also has separate federal appeals pending that argue his age at the time — he was 19 — should be a consideration for mercy. The nation's high court already has banned the execution of people under 18.
"We're going to continue to fight as vigorously as we can to see that this execution does not go forward," said Tim Sweeney, an attorney representing Phillips.
Executions have been on hold in Ohio since January 2014 when death row inmate Dennis McGuire gasped and snorted during the 26 minutes it took him to die, the longest execution in the state to date. The state used midazolam and a painkiller on McGuire in a method that's since been abandoned.
What Ohio's protocols require:
30 days before the execution:
— The warden of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, where executions are carried out, determines whether the state has sufficient execution drugs and reports his findings to the prisons agency director. The state has said in court filings it has enough drugs to carry out at least four executions.
—The execution team begins weekly training sessions.
21 days beforehand:
— Prison medical staff evaluates an inmate's veins and plans for the insertion of the IV lines.
— A member of the prison system's mental health staff evaluates the inmate's stability and mental health in light of the scheduled execution.
14 days beforehand:
The warden of Chillicothe Correctional Institution, where death row is housed, verifies the inmate's pre-execution visitors, his spiritual adviser, execution witnesses and funeral arrangements.
Published: Friday, August 04, 2017 @ 12:51 PM
— In an update from officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Friday, the number of people sickened in the salmonella outbreak involving Maradol papayas has grown.
A total of 109 people from 16 states have been infected in the salmonella outbreak as of Aug. 3, the CDC said in a news release.
The states involved are CT, DE, IA, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, NC, NJ, NY, OK, PA, TX, VA, and WI.
One death has been reported, and 35 people have been hospitalized, according to the CDC.
An additional strain of salmonella tied to Maradol papayas imported from Mexico has also been discovered, the CDC reported.
The FDA has found salmonella strains in other papayas from Carica de Campeche farm, which expands the original recall notice that urged consumers to avoid Caribeña brand Maradol papayas, distributed by Grande Produce.
Published: Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 12:34 PM
— The latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the deadly multistate E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region brought a bit of positive news.
While the CDC reported 23 more cases of illness from 13 states since the agency's May 9 update, the affected produce should no longer be available for sale.
The latest news release from the CDC posted on Wednesday said that the "last shipments of romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region were harvested on April 16, 2018 and the harvest season is over. It is unlikely that any romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region is still available in stores or restaurants due to its 21-day shelf life."
Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 6:37 PM
— A group of scientists are touting an infertility "breakthrough" after human eggs have been grown in a lab from their earliest stages to the point of potential fertilization for the first time.
Researchers from the United Kingdom and the United States conducted the research, recently publishing their results in the scientific journal Molecular Human Reproduction.
Taking ovarian tissue from 10 women in their late 20s and 30s, the scientists activitated the eggs to develop from their earliest stage to maturity, using different cocktails of nutrients. In total, 48 eggs reached the second to the last stage of maturity and nine reached full maturity.
"It's very exciting to obtain proof of principle that it's possible to reach this stage in human tissue," Dr. Evelyn Telfer, one of the researchers, told the BBC, discussing the results.
However, Telfer cautioned that much more research needs to be conducted before the technique could be used by fertilization clinics. Widespread implementation of the procedure could still be years away.
"But that has to be tempered by the whole lot of work needed to improve the culture conditions and test the quality of the oocytes [eggs]," she said.
"Apart from any clinical applications, this is a big breakthrough in improving understanding of human egg development."
The process would make it much easier for women to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF), if developed fully, The Telegraph reported. They would simply have a small tissue biopsy, instead of distressing rounds of hormone-triggered ovulation.
Experts also suggest the breakthrough could lead to new approaches to fertility preservation for women at risk of premature fertility loss, such as those undergoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Young girls who have not yet gone through puberty could even preserve and freeze their ovarian tissue for future implantation.
At the same time, some scientists caution that the approach could have drawbacks for those with cancer.
"The big worry, and the big risk, is can you put cancer cells back," Dr. Stuart Lavery, a consultant gynecologist at Hammersmith Hospital, who was not involved with the study, told The Guardian.
At the same time, Telfer pointed out that it could be the only option for young girls who hope to get pregnant later in life after beating cancer.
"[For young girls] that is the only option they have to preserve their fertility." she said.
This new method could also dramatically increase the viable number of eggs that could be harvested from an individual woman about to undergo chemo.
With current techniques, patients must "go through the quick cycle of IVF before their chemo, so it can sometimes delay things, and also you may only get 15 eggs or so; because IVF is so inefficient, only having 10 or 15 eggs is not going to guarantee them a baby," Lavery explained.
"With this [new] procedure, you could potentially get thousands or hundreds of eggs," he said.
In the past, scientists have only managed to achieve partial growth of the human egg cells in a lab. The new study is groundbreaking in that the same human eggs were brought from their very earliest stages of development to the point when they would be released from the ovaries, ready for fertilization.
However, even as scientists are hailing the breakthrough, they also recognize potential problems and drawbacks.
The lab grown eggs reached maturity in just 22 days, while the process takes five months in the body. This makes it unclear whether they can readily combine with sperm to make a healthy embryo. Telfer thinks the quicker growth may simply be due to many inhibitory signals from the body being absent, but more research is needed to determine exactly.
"Significant further research is now needed to confirm that these eggs are healthy and functioning as they should do," Dr. Helen Picton, an expert in reproduction and early development from the University of Leeds, said.
Despite the remaining questions and need for further study, experts are hailing the results as "extraordinarily important."
Published: Saturday, February 10, 2018 @ 3:41 PM
DALLAS, Texas — A special education teacher in Texas is fighting for her life after contracting both flu strains.
Crystal Whitley, 35, was physically active and had no underlying physical conditions, friends told WFAA, when she contracted both strains of influenza two weeks ago. She then developed pneumonia in both lungs and a MRSA infection.
While she is showing some signs of improvement, Whitley remains on life support at Baylor Scott & White, WFAA reported.
Whitley received a flu shot after giving birth in October, friends told WFAA.