News in 5: Mum's impossible choice; Five pedestrians hit in crash; Plastic bags kill whale.

With AAP.

1. A mum’s 22-week ultrasound forced her to make an incredibly difficult decision.

At her 22-week ultrasound to discover if she was having a boy a girl, Sam Stasinowsky’s sonographer suddenly fell completely silent.

It was then that she was delivered grim news: her little girl had a major heart defect.

“They’d already made up their mind,” the mum told Seven News. “That it was best for us to not continue the pregnancy.”

But instead of terminating, Ms Stasinowsky made the decision to go through with her pregnancy – and the results are now being used by researchers to help other babies.

Her daughter Sophie was born with her major heart arteries reversed. After a “quick cuddle” she was taken in for life-saving surgery.

Now, two years on, as part of research into treating congenital heart disease, doctors want to repeat the surgery that saved Sophie’s life.

Seven News reports Australian researchers made a breakthrough in pinning exactly how and when heart chambers form in fetuses. It’s believed they could form as early as three weeks.

This research could be used to create methods of early intervention to save unborn babies lives.

“This might take the form of drug therapies, of stem cell therapies, of other types of treatments that would help that baby get through those early phases,” Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute’s Professor Richard Harvey said.

2. Two children among five pedestrians injured in a two-car collision in Melbourne’s CBD.


Five pedestrians, including two children, have been hit by a car which lost control following a two-vehicle crash in Melbourne’s CBD.

A man and woman, aged in their 30s, were taken to hospital in serious but stable conditions after the crash on the corner of La Trobe and Williams streets on Sunday about 3.45pm.

Two children, one confirmed to be a pre-school-aged girl, were hospitalised for observation and another woman, also aged in her 30s, with rib injuries.

Nine News reports the crash was between an Uber and an RACV van, with the impact throwing the young girl from her pram.

One of the Uber passengers, Nicole Brown, told Nine the driver was trying to complete a hook turn when the RACV vehicle clipped them.

“We went to turn, when suddenly a yellow RACV van came up on the inside lane and clipped the car.”

“Our car just lost control and it just started spinning and we took out all those people.”

The collision is being treated as accidental and anyone who witnessed it has been asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

3. 80 plastic bags were found clogged in the stomach of a dead whale.

Some 80 pieces of plastic rubbish weighing eight kilograms have been found in the stomach of a whale that died in Thailand after a five-day effort to save it, marine officials say.


The pilot whale was discovered on Monday in a canal in the southern province of Songkhla and received treatment from a team of veterinarians.

The whale spit out five plastic bags on Friday and later died, the Marine and Coastal Resources Department said on its website.

An autopsy found the bags and other plastic items in the whale’s stomach.

“This plastic rubbish made the whale sick and unable to hunt for food,” the department said.

Globally, eight million tonnes of plastic – bottles, packaging and other waste – are dumped into the ocean every year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain, the United Nations Environment Programme said in December.

4. Antibiotics may shorten the lives of cancer patients, study finds.

Antibiotics may significantly shorten the lives of cancer patients receiving immunotherapy treatment, a UK study has shown.

Taking the pills to treat minor infections could affect the length of survival, it was warned, as GPs and oncologists were urged to prescribe with caution.

The researchers, from the NHS Christie Hospital in Manchester, said a balance must be struck between preventing serious infection in cancer patients and avoiding overuse of antibiotics.

The study, presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago, is thought to be the largest and "most robust" of its kind.


Researchers analysed data from 303 patients with melanoma, renal and non-small cell lung cancer, who were treated with immunotherapy drugs "checkpoint inhibitors" at Christie NHS Foundation Trust between 2015 and 2017.

Survival rates among patients who took antibiotics - at any point from two weeks before their immunotherapy started to six weeks after the treatment finished - were compared with patients who did not take any.

The antibiotic group lived for around 317 days while those who had not taken them survived for 651 days, the study found.

Patients who had used antibiotics over a longer period or been prescribed multiple courses lived for just 193 days.

Lead author Nadina Tinsley, clinical research fellow, said: "Clearly antibiotics are a really important part of patient management and we need to treat serious infections and prevent life threatening infection, even death.

"But the challenge is striking the right balance between making sure that we identify those patients that are at risk of having a serious infection, without giving antibiotics for less justified indications and maybe overusing antibiotics."

Co-author Matthew Krebs, consultant in experimental cancer medicine at the Christie Hospital, added: "If someone is genuinely got a need, then of course they should receive antibiotics.

"What we are saying is, think really carefully about it before you prescribe."

Immunotherapy drugs work by stimulating the immune system to recognise and fight the cancer.

The treatment is only effective for an estimated 20 per cent of patients, the researchers said, but scientists do not fully understand why.

Previous studies have suggested having more bacteria in the gut can improve how a patient responds to treatment.

5. Indigenous rehabilitation centre facing closure due to federal government funding cuts.


The head of an indigenous drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre believes it will have to stop taking clients from September because of federal government funding cuts.

Services provided by the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council in South Australia can't continue without ongoing funding for its main body, its chief executive Scott Wilson says.

The council receives $4.5 million a year from the federal government to operate a residential rehabilitation centre in Port Augusta and two day centres in Ceduna and Port Augusta.

But Mr Wilson says he received a call last week, during reconciliation week, to say while funding for the facilities would continue they'd stop receiving $700,000 a year for administrative facilities and wages, including his own, from January 1.

"When you don't actually have the legal entity being funded you can't actually operate the other services at all," he told Sky News.

"It's almost like having an airline but no airport to land."

He said the cut would mean staff could only be offered six month contracts and the residential treatment centre would probably stop taking clients from September this year.

"Without us there is simply no voice," Mr Wilson said in a statement.

"We need the funding back. We have so many clients in crisis who need our help."

A spokesman for Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said the service would receive $1.38 million a year to continue providing alcohol and drug treatment services until June 2020, and six months funding for the promotion and peak body.

"The minister is absolutely focused on delivering the best outcomes... and does not apologise for holding service providers like Mr Wilson to account for the outcomes they deliver," he said.

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