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For doctors-in-training and surgeons preparing to perform a brand-new procedure, practice is a good thing. For patients, maybe not so much.

For doctors-in-training and surgeons preparing to perform a brand-new procedure, practice is a good thing. For patients, maybe not so much. So instead, doctors usually prepare by working with animal models, cadavers and computer simulations.

Researchers at the University of Rochester think they might have built a better way: 3D-printed replicas of human organs created using a hydrogel that is identical in water consistency to the human body. The resulting fake organs can be made to look and feel just like their real counterparts. They can be designed to respond realistically as well, including bleeding when cut or leaking bile or urine.

Entire organ systems or segments of the body can be assembled, with artificial muscle, skin and fat to complete the unreal but realistic surgical lesson.

Body of knowledge

The average human body contains enough carbon to make 900 pencils.

Get me that, stat!

In one year, the average American consumes roughly 630 pounds of milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream; 273 pounds of fruit; 415 pounds of vegetables; 197 pounds of wheat and other grains; and 135 pounds of chicken, turkey, pork and beef, according to the USDA. The average American also consumed 1,996 pounds of salt — nearly a ton — in the same year (primarily through consumption of processed foods).

Life in Big Macs

One hour of sitting talking on the phone burns 68 calories (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of 0.1 Big Macs. Walking while talking on your cell phone will burn four calories per minute or 238 in an hour (unless you walk into something)

Counts

120,000: Americans waiting for organ transplants

14,000: Number of organ donors each year

— Source: U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration

Doc talk

Obdormition: the numb feeling you get when you wake up to discover you've slept on your arm wrong. The semi-painful tingling sensation is called paresthesia.

Phobia of the week

Pogonophobia: fear of beards

Never say diet

The Major League Eating record for spiral-sliced holiday ham is 2 pounds, 10 ounces in 5 minutes, held by Seaver Miller.

Best medicine

Patient: Doctor, I have a mole on my back.

Doctor: You need a vet.

Observation

"I observe the physician with the same diligence as the disease. "

— John Donne (1572-1631), English poet and priest

Medical history

This week in 1827, Boston's School Committee voted to require that public school students show that they had been vaccinated against smallpox prior to school entrance. Vaccination was free. Massachusetts followed with a state school vaccination law in 1855, followed by New York (1862) and Connecticut (1872).

Self exam

In an average lifetime, how many gallons of water will a person drink?

a) 5,000

b) 7,500

c) 20,000

d) 25,000

Answer: c) 20,000 gallons or roughly 320,000 8-ounce glasses.

Sum body

10 diseases or conditions science has created in mice to better study the human version

1. Gonorrhea

2. Alzheimer's disease

3. Measles

4. HIV

5. Acne

6. Obsessive-compulsive disorder

7. Alcoholism

8. Huntington's disease

9. Schizophrenia

10. Autism

Last words

"Is it not meningitis?"

— American author Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888). Alcott was chronically ill and took a turn for the worse after visiting her father. She suspected meningitis, but, in fact, likely died of mercury poisoning from an earlier treatment for typhoid fever.

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