Health News Horrors

Here's a roundup of the health news that made us stop, spit out our coffee, and read twice.

By Teresa Dumain from Reader's Digest Magazine | June 2012

Health News HorrorsIllustration by David Pohl
Horror Headline: Kids Go Under the Knife For Cosmetic Surgery

Plastic surgeon gave daughter breast implants: You read that right. California-based plastic surgeon Michael Niccole performed a breast augmentation on his daughter Brittani, now 23, when she turned 18—a gift for her birthday. (He also did her nose job a few years later.) His other daughter, Charm, went under her father’s knife at age ten to change her outie belly button (that she hated) to an innie. Today, the girls, who are both adopted, get regular Botox injections, among other procedures.

Grown-ups are no strangers to crazy cosmetic procedures, of course. Some men unhappy with their stature are going to great lengths to stand taller, opting for a leg-lengthening procedure that’s sometimes used in children whose legs are at unequal lengths, according to ABC’s 20/20. How it’s done: Surgeons break the leg bone in two and implant a telescopic rod, which then pulls the bones apart at a rate of about one millimeter a day. New bone then regenerates around the rod. The procedure is expensive (one Florida surgeon charges about $85,000), and the recovery involves months of demanding and painful physical therapy.

Horror Headline: Supply of Lifesaving Drugs Dwindling

Cancer drugs, anesthetics, and even crash cart meds are just a few on the ever-growing list of drugs in short supply across hospitals nationwide. The number of drug shortages has tripled since 2005, hitting a record high last year. Manufacturing problems, quality issues, and low profits all contribute to the shortages, which can be life-threatening. Rebecca Robinson, 37, was being treated with the chemotherapy drug Doxil for angiosarcoma, a rare blood vessel cancer that spreads to other organs, reported Time. Doxil stalled her cancer with minimal side effects—until July 2011, when her hospital ran out of it. Doctors switched her to another kind of chemo, but her cancer continued to spread; they’ve since tried two more drugs, both of which have triggered nasty side effects and, so far, have not arrested the spread of her cancer.

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