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Health Highlights: Nov. 18 2016

Famed Heart Surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley Dies British Judge Supports Dying Girl's Wish to be Frozen

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

Famed Heart Surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley Dies

Famed heart surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley died in Houston Friday. He was 96.

Cooley performed some of the nation's first heart transplants and implanted the world's first artificial heart as a temporary measure in 1969, according to the Associated Press.

A leader in his field, he helped develop techniques to repair and replace diseased heart valves, and he also operated on children and infants with congenital heart problems, the wire service reported. He also pioneered techniques for the repair of aneurysms of the aorta.

"The heart is truly a remarkable organ," Cooley said in 1989, "and developing a perfect substitute is going to be a challenge not only for this generation, but for generations of researchers to come."

Cooley's death was confirmed by Jenn Jacome, a spokeswoman for Texas Children's Hospital, where he had worked earlier in his career, and Linden Emerson, a spokeswoman for the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, which Cooley founded.

Cooley had continued to work despite declining health. He was working at the Texas Heart Institute as recently as Monday, Jacome told the wire service.


British Judge Supports Dying Girl's Wish to be Frozen

A British judge has granted the dying wish of a teen girl to be frozen with the goal of being thawed when her cancer can be cured.

Before her recent death, the 14-year-old wrote to High Court Judge Peter Jackson: "I want to live and live longer and I think that in the future they may find a cure for my cancer and wake me up," the Associated Press reported.

She said "being cryopreserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up -- even in hundreds of years' time."

The girl's divorced parents had conflicting views. Her mother was in favor while her father initially opposed the idea, but softened his position as his daughter neared death, the AP reported.

The girl -- who chose the most basic freezing option at a cost of about $46,000 -- asked the court to rule that only her mother could be in charge of her remains so that she could be cryogenically preserved.

The judge ruled in favor of the girl in October but banned media coverage while the girl was alive in order to preserve her privacy. After her death, the girl's body was taken to a cryopreservation facility in the U.S.

The technique has not yet proven to be effective and is regarded with skepticism by many medical experts, the AP reported.

The judge said his ruling was meant to resolve the disagreement between the girl's parents and was not an opinion on whether cryogenic preservation can enable someone to come back to life in the future.

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