Taiwan quick take

Fri, Dec 20, 2002 - Page 3


Girl dies after nursing blunder

A nine-month-old baby girl who was given the wrong medication at Pingtung's Love First Clinic (崇愛診所), died in Kaohsiung's Chang Gung Memorial Hospital on Wednesday night. The baby fell into a coma after a clinic nurse mistook euglucon, a drug to lower blood sugar level, for periactin, usually used to treat fever-related symptoms. The girl was transferred to the Kaohsiung hospital on Dec. 8. On Wednesday night, her situation deteriorated and she suffered heart and lung failures. She died at 8:30pm. Pingtung's local department of health revoked the license of the clinic on Dec. 16. On Dec. 17, the owner of the clinic was fined NT$150,000 for negligence. According to the Department of Health, the clinic administered the wrong medicine to at least 122 patients and affected the health of 11 babies. The investigation into the medical blunder continues.


Thaksin vows to help police

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra vowed yesterday to track down and punish the influential people believed to be behind a gang smuggling stolen luxury cars from Taiwan to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Two shipments of stolen cars, including Mercedes-Benzes, Hondas, Toyotas and Nissans worth more than US$1 million, were seized by customs agents in Bangkok's outskirts on Dec. 14 and Dec. 17, officials said. Thai Customs Department chief Chaovalit Sethametheekul was quoted in local press reports as saying the smuggling gang responsible for bringing "more than 100" stolen cars in from Taiwan included suspects from Cambodia, Taiwan, Myanmar and Thailand. The reports said powerful Thai politicians were believed to be protecting the gang, which sold the stolen vehicles in Cambodia and Laos, where cars' steering wheels are on the left side, like Taiwan.


Gao's `Snow' opens in Taipei

Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian's (高行健) first opera production, Snow in August, premiered at the National Theater in Taipei yesterday. In addition to a full house, the opera -- based on Gao's play, which depicts the legend of a seventh-century zen master -- has attracted art-festival organizers from the US and neighboring Asian countries, according to a spokesman for the Council for Cultural Affairs. The council is a major promoter of Gao's work to bring Snow in August to the stage. Acclaimed actor Wu Hsing-kuo plays the leading role in the production, backed by 50 performers, a symphony orchestra, a percussion band and the chorus of the National Taiwan Junior College of Performing Arts in Taipei.


Researchers grow liver cells

Researchers at the Biomedical Engineering Center of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) have succeeded in developing liver cells from embryonic stem cells that can be used to repair damaged livers and to test new drugs, an ITRI spokesman said yesterday. Embryonic stem cells are undifferentiated cells that have the ability to form any adult cells, such as bone, muscle, liver or blood cells. The spokesman said that the research team is the second in the world to grow liver cells, following work by researchers at the Geron Incorporation of the US. As the only stem cell research center in Taiwan, the Biomedical Engineering Center has developed a cell-colony bank to grow cells for local biomedical labs, he said.