If you saw Avery, a six-year-old girl, in her dance class today, you’d never guess she nearly passed away from a heart defect. She had her first open-heart surgery shortly after birth, and the procedure damaged a large portion of her heart. She was declared healthy enough to go home after two months in the hospital. Jess Blias, Avery’s mother, rushed her back a few weeks later because Avery had “turned blue.” Her heart was only pumping at half capacity, necessitating another surgery that might be the breakthrough of a game-changing transplant that can treat dying organs.
Can Mitochondrial Transplant Save Dying Organs?
Doctors began preparing her for a heart transplant, but they found that her heart functioned a little better than they’d expected during the brief seconds when they unplugged her from ECMO, the machine that pumped her blood, to clean the tubes, suggesting that organs might be salvageable. That’s when Sitaram Emani, a Boston Children’s Hospital cardiovascular surgeon and department head, met Blias and volunteered to undertake an experimental treatment to save her daughter’s life: a mitochondrial transplant.
This method entails taking a patient’s mitochondria (small oval structures that provide energy to cells) and inserting them into the damaged tissue of the organs. If everything goes according to plan, healthy mitochondria will be taken into damaged cells and will help them recover from the inside out. “It was kind of like a Hail Mary,” Blias shares because there were no other options for the infant Avery. It miraculously worked. Each day, Avery’s heart became stronger, and she was allowed to return home. She’s had six heart surgeries in as many years and still requires regular cardiology therapy, yet you’d never know anything was wrong if you saw her today.
A Mitochondrial Mayhem
In a manner that pharmaceuticals haven’t been able to define, scientists are now hoping that an infusion of mitochondria would jump-start the cellular processes required to restore damaged hearts, brains, and possibly other organs. So far, animal models and a few first-in-human studies, such as Avery’s, have yielded promising results. New biotech businesses have emerged in recent years to harness the power of mitochondria for uses ranging from wound healing to anti-aging.
There’s still a lot to learn, and government funding for this type of organs study is scarce at the moment. For example, the Boston Red Sox rely substantially on philanthropic donations. Michael Levitt, an associate professor of neurological surgery at the University of Washington, is aiming to transplant mitochondria into stroke patients’ brains, and he claims his team has “no external financing whatsoever.” “It’s all sweat, blood, and tears.”
Nonetheless, scientists that are following this road are optimistic that mitochondrial transplants will revolutionize the treatment of a variety of ailments, from wounds to strokes and heart attacks. Melanie Walker, a clinical professor of neurological surgery at the University of Washington and a colleague of Levitt’s, adds, “We’re very hopeful about what this could mean.”
Many people want to be better at taking care of plants, but it can be quite tricky as some are temperamental. Thankfully these apps will help guide you on your journey from growing a few seeds into a beautifully bloomed flower or plant.
If you’re looking for a free app to take care of most of your plant-based needs, then Florish could be the one for you. The app asks you to enter your plants’ species and gives you a ton of information about how to look after them. You will discover the water and light preferences of your plants as well as the ideal times to feed them. That’s not all, though, and Florish will also send you watering reminders to make sure you fulfill those needs.
If remembering to water your plants is your biggest problem, then Gardenia can really help you out. The app won’t bombard you with information about your plants, but it will send you reminders to water and fertilize them. Not only that, but once you add your plants to your profile, the app will also notify you when it’s time to repot, prune, and harvest your babies.
Despite our best efforts, sometimes our plants get sick, and we don’t know what to do to make them healthy again. PictureThis uses a camera-enabled plant identifier, which will then give you detailed care guides. The app uses an AI that can diagnose what is wrong with your plants as well as providing you with access to a community of plant lovers to discuss with. With a premium version of the app, you can even get customized advice from real-life plant experts.
There is an app for pretty much every plant-lover’s needs. These apps give their users plenty of information and help to make sure there are no more plant casualties in our homes again.