KQED News Staff

How A Birth at Stanford 50 Years Ago Launched Search for Down Syndrome Test

This story comes to us via Only Human, a new podcast from WNYC Studios. Hosted by Mary Harris, Only Human tells stories we all can relate to. Because every body has a story. Subscribe to Only Human on iTunes or wherever you like to get your podcasts. When Lee Herzenberg remembers the day her son Michael was born, she laughs and calls it a “cool birth.” Her obstetrician was a friend, and she describes it almost like a party — “a little bit painful, but that you forget very quickly.” Lee even got a kick out of the fact that a resident learned to do an episiotomy on her. It was November 1961, and she was at the newly christened Palo Alto-Stanford Hospital Center; her husband, Len, was a biology professor on campus. Like most fathers at the time, he didn't attend the birth, which meant he wasn't there when Michael started turning blue. The nurses whisked the newborn off to the nursery without telling Lee anything was wrong. It was then that a doctor noticed the characteristic features of Down syndrome: floppy muscles, eyes that slanted upward. They got Michael breathing again, but doctors thought his prognosis was grim. They gave Michael just a few months to live. A daisy chain of physicians was called, and Lee says it was a pediatrics professor who told her husband what had happened. Then Len was dispatched to tell Lee. She remembers the moment with uncharacteristic emotion. “We hugged each other, and it was a terrible conversation to realize that you'd lost the baby, but the baby was lost,” Lee says now. “We knew immediately what we'd do. We had already made the decision that it was not a good thing to take the baby home, and so we didn't.” In the 1960s — an Read More ...

Dead Whale Washes Up at Southern California Surf Spot

A dead whale has washed up at a popular California surf spot, and a boat captain says he saw another whale carcass off shore. The Orange County Register reports the first whale was spotted Sunday at Lower Trestles just south of San Clemente. Todd Mansur, who captains a whale watching boat, tells the newspaper he expects the second whale to wash up in the next few days. Each carcass is estimated at more than 40 feet long. 2 whales died yesterday washed up See this Instagram photo by @elizabethcatherinejustus * 3 likes Anyone for a surf at Trestles? Im sure that #BeachedWhale oil should keep the crowds to a minimum coming into summer! Sketchy. Great white sightings sure seemed to coincide with the burying of a whale 15+ years back by Trails. Not saying they weren't around before then but they've been sniffing around the area consistently since then. I wonder if they can tow this thing back out to sea before it completely decays in the rocks. Anybody know? See this Instagram photo by @kellyslater * 16 likes Mansur says he inspected both whales and saw no signs of marks from ships, propeller wounds or entanglements. He says great white sharks were feeding on the carcasses. Lifeguards were not immediately available to comment, so it was unclear what would be done with the whale that washed ashore. Read More ...