UPDATES: Robin Williams, Steven Tyler and Natalie Cole

Comedian Robin Williams returned to work yesterday, as Conan O’Brien’s guest on the Tonight Show, almost seven months after receiving an aortic valve replacement. He is about to go back on tour with his stand-up routine, Weapons of Mass Destruction. Williams spoke to People magazine about the way his surgery has been life changing experience: “You literally are opened up,and you really do appreciate the simplest things like breath, and friends,” he says. “I’ve been calling up all of my friends and saying,’Thanks for being there.’ You say, take it a little slower. That’s been amazing.”

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Aerosmith has canceled the remainder of its tour after front man Steven Tyler fell off the stage last week. He sustained a laceration to his scalp, which required 20 stitches and also broke his left shoulder. It is not clear exactly which bones were broken, but the most likely would be the humerus (the upper part of the arm), or possibly the clavicle. It is rare for the scalpula to fracture.
Here’s a reminder of shoulder anatomy:

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Singer Natalie Cole is recovering well from her kidney transplant in May. While attending the Harold Pump Foundation Gala in Beverly Hills to honor Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Bill Russell yesterday, she told People Magazine: “It’s remarkable what a new kidney does to your life. I have no complaints … I’m pretty amazed. I have been working on my stamina.” She’s announced a Hollywood Bowl concert comeback for September 9th. Ms. Cole’s story reminds us how important organ donation can be, and what a shortage of donated organs there is. According to OrganDonor.gov each day, about 77 people receive organ transplants. However, 19 people die each day waiting for transplants that can’t take place because of the shortage of donated organs.

The need for donors is even higher in minority or mixed ethnicity populations. Minorities overall have a particularly high need for organ transplants because some diseases of the kidney, heart, lung, pancreas, and liver are found more frequently in racial and ethnic minority populations than in the general population. For example, African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics are three times more likely than Whites to suffer from end-stage renal (kidney) disease, often as the result of high blood pressure and other conditions that can damage the kidneys. Some of these conditions that can result in organ failure arebest treated through transplantation and others can only be treated by this life-saving procedure. In addition, similar blood type is essential in matching donors to recipients. Because certain blood types are more common in ethnic minority populations, increasing the number of minority donors can increase the frequency of minority transplants.

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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