Health Highlights: March 13, 2015

Health Highlights: March 13, 2015

Health Highlights: March 13, 2015

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

World's 1st Penis Transplant Done in South Africa

The world's first successful penis transplant has been performed by surgeons in South Africa, Bloomberg News reported Friday.

The 21-year-old recipient has made a full recovery and regained all functions in the transplanted organ. The nine-hour operation was done Dec. 11 by surgeons from Stellenbosch University and Cape Town's Tygerberg Hospital, the university said Friday in a statement.

The unidentified patient had his penis amputated three years ago in a life-saving procedure after he developed complications from a traditional circumcision. There are an estimated 250 penile amputations each year in South Africa due to problems with circumcisions, Bloomberg reported.

"Our goal was that he would be fully functional at two years and we are very surprised by his rapid recovery," said Dr. Andre van der Merwe, head of the university's urology division, who led the surgical team.

This was the second time this type of operation was attempted and the first time that lasting results were achieved, the university said.

"There is a greater need in South Africa for this type of procedure than elsewhere in the world, as many young men lose their penises every year due to complications from traditional circumcision," said Van der Merwe.


Obama to Visit Phoenix VA Hospital

In his first visit to the Phoenix, Ariz. Veterans Affairs hospital that led to intense scrutiny of the federal government's care of veterans, President Barack Obama will get an update on the VA health system's progress in correcting problems.

During the visit Friday, Obama and the new VA secretary, Robert McDonald, are expected to meet with veterans, VA workers, veterans groups and elected officials, the Associated Press reported.

Critics say veterans are still not benefiting from changes meant to improve their access to care.

The Obama administration launched an overhaul of the VA in response to a number of problems, including VA workers falsifying waiting lists in order to hide long delays for veterans seeking care, the AP reported.


Lumber Liquidators Offers Free Air Quality Tests to Customers

Lumber Liquidators says it will provide customers with free air testing after it was accused of selling Chinese-made laminate flooring with high levels of formaldehyde.

The discount flooring retailer said customers can ask for free indoor air quality test kits that will be analyzed by accredited laboratories, with results emailed within a week to 10 days, The New York Times reported.

On a recent show, the CBS News television program "60 Minutes" said Lumber Liquidators sold wood that violated California Air Resources Board safety limits.

The company challenged the accusations and testing methods used by the news program, and insists that its products are safe, The Times reported.


Dr. Nancy Snyderman Leaving NBC News

Dr. Nancy Snyderman announced Thursday that she is leaving her post as chief medical editor at NBC News.

After going to Liberia in late 2014 to report on the Ebola outbreak, Snyderman agreed to a self-quarantine upon her return to the U.S., but was later found to have violated the quarantine. She later apologized for the violation, Politico reported.

In a statement, Synderman said she was taking a faculty position "at a major U.S. medical school," Politico reported.

"I stepped out of the OR a few years ago and it is now time for me to return to my roots, so I am stepping down from my position as chief medical editor at NBC News," Snyderman said in the statement.

"Covering the Ebola epidemic last fall in Liberia, and then becoming part of the story upon my return to the U.S., contributed to my decision that now is the time to return to academic medicine," she said.


Ebola Death Toll Passes 10,000: WHO

The death toll in the largest-ever Ebola outbreak has passed 10,000, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

Nearly all the victims have been in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Only 15 Ebola deaths have occurred in other countries: Mali, Nigeria and the United States, the Associated Press reported.

Liberia released its last Ebola patient on March 5 and if no new cases are found over 42 days, the country will be declared Ebola-free.

However, dozens of new cases are being reported every week in Guinea and Sierra Leone, and there are still large numbers of Ebola deaths occurring outside of hospitals, the AP reported.
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