Posts Tagged ‘death’


Oleh Hornykiewicz in his Vienna office in 2009 He helped identify low dopamine levels as a cause of Parkinson’s disease, a finding that led to an effective treatment.

Oleh Hornykiewicz, a Polish-born pharmacologist whose breakthrough research on Parkinson’s disease has spared millions of patients the tremors and other physical impairments it can cause, died on May 27 in Vienna. He was 93.

His death was confirmed by his longtime colleague, Professor Stephen J. Kish of the University of Toronto, where Professor Hornykiewicz (pronounced whor-nee-KEE-eh-vitch) taught from 1967 until his retirement in 1992.

Professor Hornykiewicz was among several scientists who were considered instrumental in first identifying a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine as a cause of Parkinson’s disease, and then in perfecting its treatment with L-dopa, an amino acid found in fava beans.

The Nobel laureate Dr. Arvid Carlsson and his colleagues had earlier shown that dopamine played a role in motor function. Drawing on that research, Professor Hornykiewicz and his assistant, Herbert Ehringer, discovered in 1960 that the brains of patients who had died of Parkinson’s had very low levels of dopamine.

He persuaded another one of his collaborators, the neurologist Walther Birkmayer, to inject Parkinson’s patients with L-dopa, the precursor of dopamine, which could cross the barrier between blood vessels and the brain and be converted into dopamine by enzymes in the body, thus replenishing those depleted levels. The treatment alleviated symptoms of the disease, and patients who had been bedridden started walking.

The initial results of this research were published in 1961 and presented at a meeting of the Medical Society of Vienna. The “L-dopa Miracle,” as it was called, inspired Dr. Oliver Sacks’s memoir “Awakenings” (1973) and the fictionalized movie of the same name in 1990.
As a therapy for Parkinson’s, L-dopa was further refined by other scientists, including George C. Cotzias and Melvin D. Yahr. But it was Professor Hornykiewicz, defying colleagues who had argued that post-mortem brain studies were worthless, who is credited with the critical breakthroughs.

His findings spurred the establishment of human brain tissue banks, research into dopamine and treatments of other diseases caused by low levels of neurotransmitters.

“Today, it is generally agreed that the initiation of the treatment of Parkinson’s disease with L-dopa represented one of the triumphs of pharmacology of our time,” Professor Hornykiewicz wrote in “The History of Neuroscience in Autobiography, Volume IV” (2004). “This provided, apart from the benefit to the patients, a stimulus for analogous studies of many other brain disorders, both neurological and psychiatric.”

He received several distinguished awards, including the Wolf Prize in Medicine in 1979 and the Ludwig Wittgenstein Prize of the Austrian Research Foundation in 1993.

In 2000, when Dr. Carlsson, of Sweden, and others were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering dopamine and “allowing for the development of drugs for the disease,” as the Nobel committee wrote, more than 200 scientists signed a petition protesting that the prize had not also been awarded to Professor Hornykiewicz.

Oleh Hornykiewicz was born on Nov. 17, 1926, in the village of Sychow, near Lviv, in what was then southeastern Poland and is now western Ukraine. His was a fourth-generation family of Eastern Orthodox Catholic priests. His father, Theophil Hornykiewicz, ministered to the village’s several dozen parishioners and taught religion; his mother, Anna (Sas-Jaworsky) Hornykiewicz, managed the affairs of the village’s 300-year-old wooden church.

When the Soviet Union invaded in 1939, the family fled to Austria, his mother’s ancestral home, with whatever belongings they could carry. Oleh knew no German but learned it by reading Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” which was readily available in Vienna. He suffered from tuberculosis and, when the war ended, decided to follow his eldest brother and become a doctor.

He received his medical degree from the University of Vienna in 1951 and began his academic and research career in its pharmacology department. He held a British Council Research Scholarship at the University of Oxford from 1956 to 1958. Beginning in 1967, he headed the psychopharmacology department at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto (now the Center for Addiction and Mental Health), where he established the Human Brain Laboratory in 1978.

He was named a full professor of pharmacology and psychiatry at the University of Toronto in 1973 and, in 1976, appointed to head the newly-founded Institute of Biochemical Pharmacology of the University of Vienna. He held both posts concurrently.

He is survived by his daughter, Maria Hentosz; three sons, Nicholas, Stephen and Joseph; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. His wife, Christina (Prus-Jablonowski) Hornykiewicz, had died.

“He was a pharmacologist, biochemist and neurologist who wanted to find out how the brain works and how dopamine was involved,” Professor Kish said. “And he wanted to be known also as a philosopher.”

Despite being snubbed by the Nobel committee, Professor Hornykiewicz was philosophical about what he had accomplished and the degree to which it had been credited.

“I am surprised to see that I have achieved everything I could have wished for,” he wrote in 2004. “The support and recognition I received for my work, I have accepted with gratitude, as a charming reminder to do more and better.”

Professor Kish, who heads the Human Brain Laboratory at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said L-dopa, or Levodopa, as it is also called, is today “the mainstay treatment for Parkinson’s disease — no drug is more efficacious.”

“Hornykiewicz,” he added, “reminds us that before L-dopa, persons with Parkinson’s disease were bedridden, crowding chronic hospital wards, and the doctors were powerless to do anything. His discovery changed all that —- it was a miracle.”

Oleh Hornykiewicz, Who Discovered Parkinson’s Treatment, Dies at 93


Dr. Richard C. Friedman in an undated photo. “Straight people had the same personality issues, and they got away with murder,” his wife said, “but gay people were stigmatized, and he didn’t think that was right.” In an important book, he challenged the widely held Freudian notion that same-sex attraction was curable, finding it instead rooted in biology.

By Kim Severson

In the 1980s, when marriage and adopting children seemed impossible dreams for gay men, the psychoanalyst Richard C. Friedman became their champion.

His 1988 book, “Male Homosexuality: A Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspective,” showed that sexual orientation was largely biological and presented a case that helped undermine the belief held by most Freudian analysts at the time that homosexuality was a pathology that could somehow be cured.

“I felt an ethical obligation to find the reasons for anti-homosexual prejudice,” he once told an interviewer. His wife, Susan Matorin, a clinical social worker at the Weill Medical College of Cornell, put it more plainly: “Straight people had the same personality issues, and they got away with murder, but gay people were stigmatized, and he didn’t think that was right.”

Dr. Friedman’s motivation wasn’t political. “He very much felt like you followed the science, and it didn’t matter what the political backdrop was,” his son, Jeremiah, a screenwriter in Los Angeles, said in a phone interview.

Although the American Psychiatric Association, the dominant mental health organization in the United States, changed its diagnostic manual in 1973 and stopped classifying homosexuality as an illness, psychoanalysts continued to describe homosexuality as a perversion, and many believed it could be cured.

Dr. Friedman, using studies of identical twins and theories of developmental psychology, made a scholarly rather than ideological case that biology rather than upbringing played a significant role in sexual orientation.

It was a direct challenge to popular Freudian theories and thrust him into the center of debates among the more established heavyweights of psychoanalysis. It led to a model in which analyst and patient simply assumed that homosexuality was intrinsic, said Jack Drescher, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University who knew Dr. Friedman and would later offer his own critiques of Dr. Friedman’s theory as new approaches to working with gay and lesbian patients emerged.

“Given that he was a younger colleague, it was brave of him to take older experts on,” Professor Drescher said. But it was in keeping with who he was. “He had an edge and wasn’t afraid of anybody,” he said.

Dr. Friedman died on March 31 at his home in Manhattan. Though the specific cause was not clear, Ms. Matorin said, he had for years been grappling with a number of health problems, including cardiac and metabolic conditions. He was 79.

Richard C. Friedman was born on Jan. 20, 1941, in the Bronx, the oldest of three sons of William Friedman and Henrietta Fuerstein. His father was a food inspector for the city; his mother a teacher.

His parents instilled in their sons a deep love of learning — all three would go on to become doctors — and of music, insisting on violin and piano lessons. Dr. Friedman would help pay for medical school by playing the accordion at events, and he remained an excellent pianist.


Dr. Friedman’s 1988 book showed that sexual orientation was largely biological and presented a case that helped undermine the belief held by most Freudian analysts that homosexuality was a pathology that could be cured.

At the time, a child could still get beaten on the streets of the Bronx for being, like Richard, Jewish, and his family was deeply affected by genocide in Europe during World War II.

While he was at the Bronx High School of Science, he received a National Merit Scholarship and used it to attend Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., graduating in 1961. Five years later he graduated from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and became a psychiatric resident at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, both in Manhattan.

Although he was best known for his work on human sexuality, Dr. Friedman was equally proud of a study he did at the medical center that showed that medical interns performed poorly when they were sleep-deprived. The work helped change how medical schools trained up-and-coming doctors.

After enlisting in the United States Army Medical Corps, he became chief of inpatient psychiatry at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, where he treated traumatized young men returning from the Vietnam War. It was there, his son said, that his suspicion of ingrained authority deepened.

Dr. Friedman would go on to become a clinical professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and a faculty member at Columbia University. He published more books and numerous articles on human sexuality, working with Dr. Jennifer Downey, a Manhattan psychiatrist and Columbia professor. He was also the longtime editor of the journal Psychodynamic Psychiatry.

Intellectually restless, Dr. Friedman was a civic-minded student of history who was well-versed in Shakespeare, a devoted reader of biographies and a fan of opera, not to mention the New York Knicks.

He was also a methodical man with distinct tastes, his family said. He always carried a copy of the United States Constitution, and without fail he would slip on gaberdine pants, an oxford shirt, a tie and a blue blazer when he went to his office on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Saturdays were more casual. He left off the tie.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by two daughters from a previous marriage, Heidi Friedman and Carla Greene; two brothers, Daniel and Joseph; and two grandchildren.

Although his critics found him to be unyielding in his views, coming off as if he thought he was the smartest person in the room (and often he was), he had a thriving private practice and devoted patients.

One was the author Andrew Solomon, whose book “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression” won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 2001. He was Dr. Friedman’s patient for 25 years. Without him, Mr. Solomon said, he might never have understood that as a gay man he could be married and have a family, or that he was capable of professional accomplishment.

“What was most striking was just his confidence and clarity,” Mr. Solomon said.

By Bryan Nelson

Many people like the idea of planting a tree next to the grave of a loved one so their bodies can live on, in a sense, by providing nutrients that get absorbed by the tree. But would you ever want to forgo the casket and the grave, and have your remains directly transformed into compost?

Washington, which earlier this year became the first state to legalize human composting, is giving residents options beyond burial or cremation.

“People from all over the state who wrote to me are very excited about the prospect of becoming a tree or having a different alternative for themselves,” state Sen. Jamie Pedersen, who sponsored the bill, told NBC News when the bill was passed.

As a result of that legislation, the first human composting site is on a path to open its doors in spring 2021 in Seattle.

The law allows for the “recomposition” of human remains, a process that speeds up decomposition and turns the remains into nutrient-packed soil, which can be used as the family sees fit. That’s where Seattle’s Recompose gets its name and its mission: “Recompose takes guidance from nature. At the heart of our model is a system that will gently return us to the earth after we die.”

The facility, which looks nothing like a traditional funeral home, will house 75 hexagonal-shaped vessels where bodies will be stored for decomposition. The breakdown takes about 30 days using wood chips, alfalfa and straw.

Cycle of life?

While some people might think there’s something eerily cannibalistic about eating crops that were planted in grandma’s remains, it’s also a way of perpetuating the cycle of life that all of our food grows from. This is the mental hurdle that has likely prevented human composting from being legalized until recently.

Recomposition does have some practical benefits that are worth considering as well. For one, it’s more economical. A traditional burial costs an average of $7,000, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Recomposition will cost around $5,500. Moreover, composting is far healthier for the environment. No toxic embalming fluids are used, and the resultant nutrient-rich soil has a green thumb use.

There are safeguards in place to ensure that no harmful pathogens survive the recomposition process, which has been another sticking point in previous attempts to legalize human composting. A study led by researcher Lynne Carpenter-Boggs at Washington State University, which recomposed six donor bodies in a carefully controlled environment, has demonstrated that the process is safe.

https://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/responsible-living/stories/would-you-want-your-body-turned-compost-when-you-die?utm_source=Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=e194c0c1a7-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_WED1204_2019&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fcbff2e256-e194c0c1a7-40844241



Researchers found that a black-box algorithm predicted patient death better than humans.

They used ECG results to sort historical patient data into groups based on who would die within a year.

Although the algorithm performed better, scientists don’t understand how or why it did.

Albert Einstein’s famous expression “spooky action at a distance” refers to quantum entanglement, a phenomenon seen on the most micro of scales. But machine learning seems to grow more mysterious and powerful every day, and scientists don’t always understand how it works. The spookiest action yet is a new study of heart patients where a machine-learning algorithm decided who was most likely to die within a year based on echocardiogram (ECG) results, reported by New Scientist.

The algorithm performed better than the traditional measures used by cardiologists. The study was done by researchers in Pennsylvania’s Geisinger regional healthcare group, a low-cost and not-for-profit provider.

Much of machine learning involves feeding complex data into computers that are better able to examine it really closely. To analogize to calculus, if human reasoning is a Riemann sum, machine learning may be the integral that results as the Riemann calculation approaches infinity. Human doctors do the best they can with what they have, but whatever the ECG algorithm is finding in the data, those studying the algorithm can’t reverse engineer what it is.

The most surprising axis may be the number of people cardiologists believed were healthy based on normal ECG results: “The AI accurately predicted risk of death even in people deemed by cardiologists to have a normal ECG,” New Scientist reports.

To imitate the decision-making of individual cardiologists, the Geisinger team made a parallel algorithm out of the factors that cardiologists use to calculate risk in the accepted way. It’s not practical to record the individual impressions of 400,000 real human doctors instead of the results of the algorithm, but that level of granularity could show that cardiologists are more able to predict poor outcomes than the algorithm indicates.

It could also show they perform worse than the algorithm—we just don’t know. Head to head, having a better algorithm could add to doctors’ human skillset and lead to even better outcomes for at-risk patients.

Machine learning experts use a metric called area under the curve (AUC) to measure how well their algorithm can sort people into different groups. In this case, researchers programmed the algorithm to decide which people would survive and which would die within the year, and its success was measured in how many people it placed in the correct groups. This is why future action is so complicated: People can be misplaced in both directions, leading to false positives and false negatives that could impact treatment. The algorithm did show an improvement, scoring 85 percent versus the 65 to 80 percent success rate of the traditional calculus.

As in other studies, one flaw in this research is that the scientists used past data where the one-year window had finished. The data set is closed and scientists can directly compare their results to a certain outcome. There’s a difference—and in medicine it’s an ethical one—between studying closed data and using a mysterious, unstudied mechanism to change how we treat patients today.

Medical research faces the same ethical hurdles across the board. What if intervening based on machine learning changes outcomes and saves lives? Is it ever right to treat one group of patients better than a control group that receives less effective care? These obstacles make a big difference in how future studies will pursue the results of this study. If the phenomenon of better prediction holds up, it may be decades before patients are treated differently.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/a29762613/ai-predict-death-health/

By Steven Reinberg

Loneliness can take a heavy toll on heart patients — including a higher risk of death in the year after hospitalization, researchers found.

“This study confirms what has also been indicated in previous research regarding the serious health consequences of loneliness,” said lead researcher Anne Vinggaard Christensen, of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.

“Loneliness should be considered a serious risk factor in patients with cardiac disease and should be included in risk evaluation of patients,” added Christensen, who is with the hospital’s heart center.

The Danish researchers cautioned, however, that their findings can’t prove that loneliness caused people to die, only that loneliness and the risk of death appear to be connected. But the differences in mortality between those who felt lonely and those who didn’t can’t be explained by their medical condition alone, they said.

Loneliness is a subjective experience, one that is distressing and unpleasant, the researchers noted.

The connection between loneliness and health is complex, Christensen said.

People who are lonely or socially isolated tend to have more unhealthy lifestyles. They smoke more, are less likely to be physically active and don’t take their medication, she said.

“Having a social network helps motivate people to make healthier choices,” Christensen said. “A social network can act as a buffer for stress.”

Also, lonely people have been found to have higher levels of stress hormones and lower immune function, she added.

“These different pathways are interconnected and help us understand why people feeling lonely or socially isolated experience worse health,” Christensen said.

James Maddux is a professor emeritus in the department of psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Reviewing the findings, he took issue with the study’s methodology.

“My major concern about the methodology is that their measure of loneliness is rather weak and is not consistent with most studies about loneliness that I am familiar with,” Maddux said. He explained that the question used to measure loneliness failed to capture loneliness “as a profound sense of isolation and disconnected from others, accompanied by sadness and a longing to be with others. In other words, loneliness is painful.”

Still, even in its flawed state, the new study “adds to the growing research on the perils of social isolation among people in general and among older adults over 60 in particular,” said Maddux. “These results help reaffirm what we’ve learned so far about how unhealthy social isolation can be.”

For the study, Christensen and her colleagues collected data on more than 13,400 heart patients after they left the hospital from 2013 to 2014. Their average age was in the mid-60s.

Participants completed questionnaires on their health, psychological well-being, quality of life and levels of anxiety and depression.

Compared to people who didn’t feel lonely, those who said they were lonely were nearly three times more likely to be anxious and depressed and have a lower quality of life, the researchers found.

A year later, Christensen’s team found that feeling lonely had a significant impact on participants’ health.

Regardless of other factors, lonely women were nearly three times more likely to die than women who weren’t lonely, and lonely men were more than twice as likely to die, the researchers found.

Living alone, however, is not necessarily equal to feeling lonely, and it was linked to a lower risk of depression and anxiety than living with others.

But among men, living alone was tied with a 39% greater risk for poor heart health. This may be because men tend not to have an extensive support network after divorce or death of a spouse, compared with women, the researchers noted.

“Loneliness can have many causes and can occur even if you have people around you,” Christensen said.

For some, it would help to have a family member who remembers to ask how they are doing and is ready to listen, she said.

“For others, help with practical things might be what they need, and for some, the opportunity to talk to other patients who have gone through the same thing is helpful,” Christensen said.

She also stressed that the effects of loneliness are not confined to heart disease. “It’s also [detrimental] for individuals who do not suffer from an illness. Loneliness seems to be damaging to your health no matter what,” Christensen said.

The report was published online Nov. 4 in the journal Heart.

https://consumer.healthday.com/cardiovascular-health-information-20/misc-stroke-related-heart-news-360/risks-mount-for-lonely-hearts-after-cardiac-surgery-751879.html

By Jonathan Lambert

If you’re looking for motivation to take up running, perhaps this will help. A new study finds that people who run as little as once a week have a lower risk of early death compared with people who don’t run at all.

In fact, any amount of running was associated with a 27 percent lower risk of premature death. And researchers found no evidence that running more alters that number significantly, according to a new meta-analysis published November 4 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“This is good news for the many adults who find it hard to find time for exercise,” says Elaine Murtagh, an exercise physiologist at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland, who was not involved in the study. “Any amount of running is better than none.”

While this conclusion might seem obvious to runners, the science has been fairly mixed, says public health researcher Željko Pedišić of Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. “Some studies found a significant benefit of running, but others did not,” he says.

Also unclear was whether the duration or intensity of running mattered. Researchers who study the effects of running think about the activity in terms of doses, as though it were itself a medicine. Pedišić says that while it might make sense that more running would yield greater health benefits, some studies have sparked debate by suggesting that higher levels of running — more than 250 minutes a week — could actually negate any benefits in terms of mortality.

Pedišić and his colleagues tried to make sense of these conflicting findings by pooling and reanalyzing data from previous studies, an approach known as a meta-analysis. They settled on 14 previously published studies, which collectively asked 232,149 participants about their running habits and then tracked their health over a period of time from 5 ½ to 35 years.

Over the course of each study a total of 25,951 participants died, allowing the researchers to look for statistical associations between running and risk of death.

The researchers found that runners, even those who reported running as infrequently as once a month, had a 27 percent reduced risk of death from any cause compared with non-runners. Each study differed slightly in how they defined a runner, making it difficult to say exactly how little running is necessary for a benefit, though Pedišić says taking just a few strides a week is almost certainly not enough.

Still, the lower risk of early death was more or less the same across all running doses, from running no more than once a week for less than 50 minutes to running every day for a weekly total of 250 minutes. “All these doses of running are significantly associated with lower risk of death,” Pedišić says. “There was no significant difference between frequency, duration or pace,”

“Not finding a trend does not mean that the trend does not exist,” Pedišić cautions. A trend could be too small to be detected within the sample size. Studying the health effects of heavy running can be difficult because there aren’t many people who run that much, he says.

While more evidence is needed to determine if there is an upper limit to how much running is beneficial, this study fits with other research finding health benefits for any level of activity, says Angelique Brellenthin, a kinesiologist at Iowa State University in Ames who was not involved in the study, “Any amount of physical activity that you can fit into your schedule is good for you,” she says.

Running just once a week may help you outpace an early death


Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photo in 2013.

By Scottie Andrew

Alexei Leonov, the first person to perform a spacewalk, died this week. He was 85.

Russian space agency Roscosmos Space Corporation announced his passing Friday. State news agency RIA-Novosti reported he’d been chronically ill before his death.

Though Leonov wasn’t the first man on the moon (a goal he wasn’t shy about), he earned his own “first” in the space race between the US and Soviet Union. On March 18, 1965, he embarked on the first spacewalk, spending 12 minutes outside the Voskhod 2 capsule.

The first American to walk in space, Ed White, wouldn’t do so until June that same year.

On the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975, Leonov met with US astronauts in space and gave TV viewers tours of their respective crafts, the first time Soviet and US cosmonauts collaborated in space. The mission is credited with kick-starting eventual international cooperation aboard the International Space Station.

Leonov was also a celebrated artist who brought colored pencils to space to sketch the view of Earth. His drawing of the sunrise is considered the first piece of art created in space.

His funeral will be held October 15 at Mytishchi Military Memorial cemetery outside Moscow.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/11/world/alexei-leonov-first-spacewalk-death-scn-trnd/index.html

A woman wrote her own obituary before passing away at the age of 32 after a brave battle with cancer.

Ashley Ann Kuzma began by saying, “When you have recurrent laryngeal cancer that just won’t take no for an answer, you have a lot of time to think about death. The good thing is I no longer have to worry about saving for retirement, paying off student loans, or trying not to get skin cancer??? One positive outcome from having recurrent cancer was that it taught me to let go of the insignificant things and to just enjoy the people and places.”

Kuzma said her body finally had enough after three recurrences of cancer. She passed away last month at the Cleveland Clinic.

She was a gifted teacher at a high school in Erie, Pennsylvania; and loved reading, cuddling with her cats and traveling.

Kuzma wrote that after she found out her cancer was back for the fourth time, she went to Mexico and saw Chichen Itza.

“I am extremely grateful for the life that I lived. I was fortunate to have a loving family, supportive friends, a stable and meaningful job, and a house to call my own. My wish for you is to stop letting insignificant situations stress you out. Do what is important to you. Relax and enjoy the company of those around you. What do you value in your life? In the end, that’s what matters.”

Kuzma’s family told Good Morning America they didn’t know she had written her obituary until they found it on her computer following her death.

Kuzma’s mom, Vicky, said, “When we found it we were like, ‘What do we do?’ and I said, ‘She wrote this. We have to publish this. ‘ This is her last message to us, how could we not?”

In her obituary, Kuzma asked that a celebration of life be held for her “since I think viewings are too sad for everyone.”

She also asked that donations be made to the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania (Erie Humane Society), Orphan Angels Cat Sanctuary & Adoption Center Erie, Pa., or Hope Lodge, Cleveland, Ohio.

Ashley Ann Kuzma
1987 – 2019
Ashley Ann Kuzma Obituary
When you have recurrent laryngeal cancer that just won’t take no for an answer, you have a lot of time to think about death. The good thing is I no longer have to worry about saving for retirement, paying off student loans, or trying not to get skin cancer??? One positive outcome from having recurrent cancer was that it taught me to let go of the insignificant things and to just enjoy the people and places. After three recurrences, my body finally had enough and I passed away on Sunday, September 22, 2019 at the Cleveland Clinic.

I was born on May 21, 1987 in Beaver County, Pa. I grew up in Conway and attended Freedom Area High School (class of 2005). I earned a Bachelor’s in History and Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh (class of 2009), where I also became a member of Kappa Delta Sorority. I completed my teaching certificate and Master of Education degree at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. After I graduated high school, my family moved to Erie. While I spent a few years teaching in Lancaster County, I returned to Erie to plant my roots and became a gifted support teacher at McDowell Intermediate High School. In my spare time, I enjoyed reading, cuddling with my cats, wine tasting, relaxing on my dad’s boat, watching movies, golfing, decorating my house, watching football (go Steelers!), appreciating a good sunset, and watching TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, the original Will and Grace, and Friends. While in college I spent a semester abroad in London and was able to travel to Paris, France, Krakow, Poland (it had been a goal of mine to visit Auschwitz for many years), Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rome, Italy. Some of my favorite family vacations include experiencing the awe of the Grand Canyon and enjoying the sun, sand, and family time in the Outer Banks. After I found out my cancer was back for the fourth time, I went to Mexico and saw Chichen Itza. I am extremely grateful for the life that I lived. I was fortunate to have a loving family, supportive friends, a stable and meaningful job, and a house to call my own. My wish for you is to stop letting insignificant situations stress you out. Do what is important to you. Relax and enjoy the company of those around you. What do you value in your life? In the end, that’s what matters.

I am survived by my wonderful parents, John William Kuzma and Vicky Lynn (Barron) Kuzma of Fairview, Pa.; my sister, Kristen Marie Kuzma of Clinton, Pa.; our family dog, Lizzy; my cats, Archie and Stella; my maternal grandmother, Verda Ann (Durst) Barron of New Brighton, Pa.; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, and many friends.

I was preceded in death by my paternal grandparents, John Allen Kuzma and Dolores Marie (Gajewski) Kuzma; my maternal grandfather, Robert Eugene Barron; my childhood cat of 18 years, Sammy; our beloved family dog of 17 years, Dylan; and my cat, Leo.

Since I think viewings are too sad for everyone, I requested that my family host a celebration of my life. Please join them on Sunday, October 13, 2019 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Perry Highway Hose Co. Oliver Rd., Erie, Pa. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania (Erie Humane Society), Orphan Angels Cat Sanctuary & Adoption Center Erie, Pa., or Hope Lodge, Cleveland, Ohio.

This obituary was written by Ashley preceding her passing as part of the many preparations to make the transition easier on her family.

Sign the Guestbook at http://www.GoErie.com/obits.Sign the
Published in the Erie Times-News on Oct. 3, 2019

By Alice Park

While death is inevitable, knowing when it will come isn’t necessarily, and scientists have been trying to develop a test that could reliably and easily predict how long a person will live — or, more technically, how healthy they are and therefore how vulnerable they might be to major mortality risk factors. Blood tests are the most likely avenue to such a test, since it’s easy to obtain blood samples and labs equipped to handle them are common.

The latest effort is described in a new paper published in Nature Communications, by a team led by Joris Deelen, postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Aging and P. Eline Slagboom, head of molecular epidemiology at Leiden University Medical Center. The researchers report that, in a group of more than 44,000 healthy patients, their blood test was around 80% accurate in predicting mortality risk within five to 10 years.

The patients, who ranged in age from 18 to 109 years, provided blood samples and had their health events tracked for up to 16 years. The researchers analyzed a group of 226 so-called metabolites, or by-products of things that various cells and tissues in the body pour into the blood stream for circulation and removal. From this collection of markers, the team narrowed down the list to 14 that they determined could together, and along with the person’s sex, provide a pretty good picture of each person’s health risk, and, by association, their risk of dying in the next five to 10 years. They accomplished this by comparing those who died during the study to those who did not and isolating which agents in their blood differed to statistically significant amounts. The link between the final 14 factors and mortality remained strong even after the scientists accounted for potential confounding factors that also affect survival such as age, sex, and cause of death.

“We want to tackle the vulnerability of people’s health that is hidden and that doctors cannot see from the outside,” says Slagboom. “I am still surprised by the fact that in a group of people you can take one blood sample at one point of time in their life, and that would say anything meaningful about their five to 10 year mortality risk.”

Both Deelen and Slagboom stress that the test is not ready yet for doctors to use in the clinic with their patients, but that it does establish a foundation for one down the road. An eventual test could be most useful at first in assessing older patients and guiding treatment decisions, since the 14 metabolites represent a range of processes including the breakdown of fat and glucose, inflammation and fluid balance in the body, that impact a range of chronic ailments, as well as a person’s ability to recover from illness or injury.

Researchers at Leiden University are currently studying the test to see if it can help doctors predict which patients with hip fractures are more likely to develop complications during their recovery after surgery. Another study is looking at whether the test can predict which people with kidney failure are more likely to develop dementia or side effects like delirium as a result of their treatment; this information could help doctors to better adjust dosage and treatment decisions.

The researchers are also hoping to work with large databanks around the world to further validate the findings. “We see this as a foundation,” says Slagboom, “we do not see this test as an endpoint.”

https://time.com/5656767/blood-test-longevity/

Peter Mayhew, the towering actor who donned a huge, furry costume to give life to the rugged-and-beloved character of Chewbacca in the original “Star Wars” trilogy and two other films, has died, his family said Thursday.

Mayhew died at his home in north Texas on Tuesday, according to a family statement. He was 74. No cause was given.

As Chewbacca, known to his friends as Chewie, the 7-foot-3 Mayhew was a fierce warrior with a soft heart, loyal sidekick to Harrison Ford’s Han Solo, and co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon.

Mayhew went on to appear as the Wookiee in the 2005 prequel “Revenge of the Sith” and shared the part in 2015′s “The Force Awakens” with actor Joonas Suotamo, who took over the role in subsequent films.

“Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character,” Ford said in a statement Thursday. “These aspects of his own personality, plus his wit and grace, he brought to Chewbacca. We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him… My thoughts are with his dear wife Angie and his children. Rest easy, my dear friend.”

Mayhew defined the incredibly well-known Wookiee and became a world-famous actor for most of his life without speaking a word or even making a sound — Chewbacca’s famous roar was the creation of sound designers.

“He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films,” the family statement said. “But, to him, the ‘Star Wars’ family meant so much more to him than a role in a film.”

Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker alongside Mayhew, wrote on Twitter that he was “the gentlest of giants — A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly. I’m grateful for the memories we shared & I’m a better man for just having known him.”

Born and raised in England, Mayhew had appeared in just one film and was working as a hospital orderly in London when George Lucas, who shot the first film in England, found him and cast him in 1977′s “Star Wars.”

Lucas chose quickly when he saw Mayhew, who liked to say all he had to do to land the role was stand up.

“Peter was a wonderful man,” Lucas said in a statement Thursday. “He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature … and I learned to always let him win. He was a good friend and I’m saddened by his passing.”

From then on, “Star Wars” would become Mayhew’s life. He made constant appearances in the costume in commercials, on TV specials and at public events. The frizzy long hair he had most of his adult life made those who saw him in real life believe he was Chewbacca, along with his stature.

His height, the result of a genetic disorder known as Marfan syndrome, was the source of constant health complications late in his life. He had respiratory problems, his speech grew limited and he often had to use scooters and wheelchairs instead of walking.

His family said his fighting through that to play the role one last time in “The Force Awakens” was a triumph.

Even after he retired, Mayhew served as an adviser to his successor Suotamo, a former Finnish basketball player who told The Associated Press last year that Mayhew put him through “Wookiee boot camp” before he played the role in “Solo.”

Mayhew spent much of the last decades of his life in the United States, and he became a U.S. citizen in 2005.

The 200-plus-year-old character whose suit has been compared to an ape, a bear, and Bigfoot, and wore a bandolier with ammunition for his laser rifle, was considered by many to be one of the hokier elements in the original “Star Wars,” something out of a more low-budget sci-fi offering.

The films themselves seemed to acknowledge this.

“Will somebody get this big walking carpet out of my way?!” Carrie Fisher, as Princess Leia, says in the original “Star Wars.” It was one of the big laugh lines of the film, as was Ford calling Chewie a “fuzzball” in “The Empire Strikes Back.”

But Chewbacca would become as enduring an element of the “Star Wars” galaxy as any other character, his roar — which according to the Atlantic magazine was made up of field recordings of bears, lions, badgers and other animals — as famous as any sound in the universe.

“Chewbacca was an important part of the success of the films we made together,” Ford said in his statement.

Mayhew is the third major member of the original cast to die in recent years. Fisher and R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker died in 2016.

Mayhew’s family said he was active with various nonprofit groups and established the Peter Mayhew Foundation, which is devoted to alleviating disease, pain, suffering and the financial toll from traumatic events. The family asked that in lieu of flowers, friends and fans donate to the foundation.

Mayhew is survived by his wife, Angie, and three children. A private service will be held June 29, followed by a public memorial in early December at a Los Angeles “Star Wars” convention.

https://www.post-gazette.com/news/obituaries/2019/05/02/Peter-Mayhew-original-Chewbacca-Star-Wars-died-74/stories/201905020200