BMJ 27 Jan 2007

The unnamed hero of this editorial on permanent ventricular assist devices in the UK is Peter Houghton, who, more than six years ago, was dying of heart failure. Stephen Westaby wanted to fit him with the then-experimental Jarvik 2000 LAD, and Philip Poole-Wilson was sent in to explain to him that it might not work. More...Peter won’t mind me mentioning him by name because he has written a moving book about all this (On Death, Dying,and Not Dying) and has his own website ( Now the two eminent professors who looked after him argue for much wider application of this technology, not just as a bridge to transplantation.
A host of shining angels here appeal to the god of academic medicine (if he exists) to come to their aid in a beneficent, world-changing programme of teaching and research. But who is this I see, hiding behind their gleaming wings? Beelzebub, stand forth! I know no angel called Richard Smith.
An Australian population based study casts doubt on the dogma that women should not get pregnant within two years of treatment for localised breast cancer – six months is probably safe.
197 This systematic review comparing treatment effects between animal experiments and human clinical trials is bound to be used by both sides in this emotionally-charged debate. There is widespread discordance which “may be due to bias or the failure of animal models to mimic clinical disease adequately