Of Human Interest: News lite

By ELLEN BECK, United Press International  |  June 26, 2002 at 4:30 AM
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A 93-year-old surgeon who pioneered development of an innovative heart pump -- based in part on space shuttle technology -- has nailed a top NASA award. Michael DeBakey, an internationally known heart surgeon, inventor and presidential medical advisor, got the idea for the tiny pump after treating and speaking with a Johnson Space Center shuttle engineer who needed a heart transplant.

Borrowing ideas from the pressurized, high-speed pumps that deliver propellants to the space shuttle main engines, DeBakey, colleague George Noon and a team of NASA engineers came up with a miniature pump that is quieter, cheaper and much smaller than heart pumps currently available.

NASA, which owns the patent for the device, granted an exclusive license to commercialize the pump to MicroMed Technology of Houston, which has spent $50 million in development so far, company president Dallas Anderson said in an interview with United Press International.

Clinical trials of the device began in Europe in 1998 and so far, 162 MicroMed DeBakey VADs -- ventricular assist device -- have been implanted in heart patients. Anderson expects the pump to become commercially available in two years.

The device can serve as a bridge to keep a healthy supply of blood flowing throughout the body while a patient is awaiting a new heart or can be permanently implanted in people who are ineligible for transplants. It also could be used in emergency room situations to help victims of heart attacks.

(Thanks to UPI's Irene Brown at Cape Canaveral, Fla.)


A recent Blockbuster surveys finds the all-time "Most Romantic Movie Moments" are from films made long before today's heartthrobs like Josh Hartnett and Matt Damon knew what romance was.

America's top romantic movie moments are from "Dr. Zhivago," (1965) "Out of Africa" (1985) and "Ghost" (1990). The survey included five films from the American Film Institute's "America's Top 100 Greatest Love Stories" released June 11 in a television special.

Most romantic scenes include when Omar Sharif and Julie Christie are at the frozen country estate and he writes her a poem (Dr. Zhivago), when Robert Redford washes Meryl Streep's hair by the river (Out of Africa), when Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore are molding clay (Ghost), when Cary Grant walks into Deborah Kerr's bedroom and sees the painting she bought that he had painted (An Affair to Remember), and, of course, the final scene when Humphrey Bogart tells Ingrid Bergman she has to get on the plane (Casablanca).


He was so bad as a poet, he became famous and so William Topaz McGonagall will be honored by his native city of Dundee in Scotland. McGonagall, the British Broadcasting Corp. reports, gained fame for the mutilating the meter and rhyme of poetry.

He will be remembered in a public art project commissioned by Dundee's City of Discovery Campaign 100 years after his death. The BBC says the first verse of one of his most quoted works, "The Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay," will be etched into the pavement that runs along the north bank of the river and is close to the bridge.

Mervyn Rolfe, campaign chairman, told the BBC McGonagall, who called himself the "Poet Laureate of the Tay Bridge," is one of Dundee's most famous sons.

"Love him or loathe him there is no denying the fact that McGonagall was a great character with great passion for poetry and Dundee," he said. "His appalling use of meter and rhyme and his unshakeable self-belief have endeared him to the hearts of thousands of fans all over the world.


Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., is out with a new study that says what millions of women probably already know -- men are not anti-marriage; they just aren't in a hurry to get to the altar.

The National Marriage Project study, "Why Men Won't Commit: Exploring Young Men's Attitudes About Sex, Dating and Marriage" reveals the top 10 reasons why men are taking a longer time to wed, including enjoying single life, getting plenty of sex without marriage, getting the benefits of having a wife through living with a woman and facing fewer social pressures to marry.

Study findings were based on eight focus groups with 60 unmarried heterosexual men, ages 25 to 33, held from January to April in northern New Jersey, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Houston.

Project co-director David Popenoe says the median age for a first marriage for men is up to 27, the oldest in the nation's history. "The good news is that men who marry later may be more financially stable and emotionally mature. The bad news is that they may be more inflexible and less able to make the compromises needed in marriage and family life," he said.

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