BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7101.198 (Published 19 July 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:198

American Airlines has supplied its “long distance over water” aircraft with automatic external defibrillators, and 2300 cabin staff are being trained in their use. An editorial in Aviation Space and Environmental Medicine (1997;68:365-7) explains that aircraft are already in radio contact with a “physician on call” system. The airline believes that taking this action may save lives and will expose it to a lower risk of litigation than doing nothing.

Fewer than one third of patients with sickle cell disease or with ß thalassaemia have a relative who can provide an HLA identical bone marrow donation. The alternative is to use unrelated cord blood as the source of donor stem cells (Journal of Pediatrics 1997;130:695-703). At least 200 patients have been treated with this technique, but it is still uncertain whether the use of cord blood cells overcomes all the problems of HLA incompatibility.

The treatment of epilepsy with drugs still leaves much to be desired, says a review in the Southern Medical Journal (1997;90:471-80). The review recalls that in the 1920s the observation was made that people who fasted often stopped having epileptic seizures, and treatment was tried with a ketogenic diet, high in fat and low in protein and carbohydrates. This worked, but patients disliked the …

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