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April 11, 2014

Like scaffolding that props up a building, scientists are now using temporary frameworks to create custom-designed, complex new organs, which they've successfully implanted in several patients. These breakthroughs were revealed in two extraordinary studies on the engineering of body parts published Thursday in The Lancet.

Here's the basics of how the process works: Doctors first extract cells from a patient's muscle and tissue, then use those cells to seed 3-D biodegradable scaffolding of the target organ that they've constructed from scans of the patient's body. After a few weeks in an incubator, the seed cells have spread across the scaffolding to produce a layer of tissue, and the new organ is implanted in the patient. The scaffolding is absorbed into the body as the cells continue to grow.

One team worked on creating nasal cartilage, while another grew new vaginas. "This is a move forward to even more challenging [organs]," Ian Martin, a professor of tissue engineering at University Hospital Basel in Switzerland and co-author of the nasal cartilage study, told CNN. "All these incremental steps finally have demonstrated that it is possible to engineer tissue that can help patients."

The reproductive organ study involves four teenagers born with a rare condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser Syndrome. The women were all born either without or with a deformed uterus or vagina. According to CNN, after receiving their new sex organs, the patients all indicated that they had "normal levels of desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and painless intercourse." Two of the patients now also menstruate.

The patients in the nasal tissue study were all elderly and had recently undergone cancer surgery. Ordinarily, doctors reconstruct noses with big pieces of cartilage taken from the ear, septum, or ribs — a very painful process. This time, scientists removed a tiny piece of tissue from each patient's nasal septum — roughly half the size of the tip of a pen — and put it onto a scaffold. The cells formed a thin layer of cartilage that was then transplanted to the patient.

Scientists hope that these amazing findings will help more people in the future, including those who need replacement cartilage or whose reproductive systems have been damaged. "Tissue engineering is finally demonstrating that it can deliver on expectations," Martin said. Catherine Garcia

4:47 p.m. ET

A Home Depot employee in Staten Island, N.Y., sparked death threats by wearing an "America Was Never Great" hat to work, The New York Times reports. Krystal Lake, 22, says she wore the hat after several co-workers wore pro–Donald Trump pins. "The point of the hat was to say that America needs change and improvement," Lake said. A company spokesman said Lake has been told never to wear the hat again. The Week Staff

4:40 p.m. ET

After much back and forth, Donald Trump released a statement Friday saying definitively that he would not engage Sen. Bernie Sanders in a debate. The two camps had traded comments in the media after Trump said on Wednesday night's Jimmy Kimmel Live show that he'd debate the Democratic candidate, and Sanders agreed. There had been discussions of doing the debate for charity before Trump put the kibosh on the whole thing, as only Trump can:

Sad! Kimberly Alters

3:41 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The CEO of a New York-based technology investment company has offered to put forward $10 million to charity if Donald Trump will debate Bernie Sanders.

Trump has flip-flopped on his promise to debate Sanders, although he eventually said during a Thursday speech that he would do so only if someone paid $10 million to a "women's health charity." Sanders has also appeared to be up for a debate, asking for the matchup to take place in the largest stadium possible.

Traction and Scale CEO Richie Heckler told BuzzFeed News that his company would be willing to put forward the money if they were given the opportunity to host the debate. Heckler, who supported a Michael Bloomberg candidacy, aims to hold the event on June 6, the day before the California primary, and in the largest venue in California that can be secured. Heckler said "the format we're going to use will be different," and that the debate would be "a very powerful change to the process."

It would certainly be unusual, anyway — neither Trump nor Sanders have been officially nominated by their respective parties. In fact, Sanders looks more than likely to lose in July to Hillary Clinton, who has so far turned down his requests for another Democratic debate. Jeva Lange

3:17 p.m. ET

Though Dr. Henry Heimlich developed his life-saving maneuver way back in 1974, it wasn't until this week that he actually put it to the test in an emergency. On Monday evening at his retirement home in Cincinnati, the 96-year-old retired chest surgeon saved someone who was choking with his namesake treatment for what he says is the first time ever.

During dinner, Heimlich noticed fellow resident Patty Ris, 87, suddenly begin to choke on a piece of hamburger. While staff rushed over to help her, it was Heimlich who ultimately stepped in to help. "I did the Heimlich Maneuver — of course,” Heimlich told The Guardian. “She was going to die if she wasn't treated. I did it, and a piece of food with some bone in it flew out of her mouth."

Ris joined the ranks of the tens of thousands of lives, including former President Ronald Reagan, that have been saved in the U.S. thanks to Dr. Heimlich's maneuver. "When I used it, and she recovered quickly," Heimlich said, "it made me appreciate how wonderful it has been to be able to save all those lives." Becca Stanek

2:37 p.m. ET
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Customers in a Didsbury, England, coffee shop began to "freak out" after they heard shouting and "gunshot-like bangs," prompting one man to dive head-first out a window to escape, Metro reports. The Costa Coffee patrons believed they were experiencing a terrorist attack — although the sounds turned out to be noisy school children banging their trays downstairs.

"It sounded like shots were being fired. It was not just me who thought that," one woman who asked not to be named by The Manchester Evening News said. "Other people were running around trying to get out on to the balcony but the door was locked. I think that's why the man went for one of the front windows. When I looked round I could only see his feet hanging from the window. He was climbing out head first. To be honest I wasn't surprised by his reaction because we all thought an attack was happening. It sounded like there was a shooting downstairs. I was expecting people wearing balaclavas and carrying guns to come upstairs."

The man who jumped out the window may have broken his arm, and was taken to the hospital. Costa Coffee wishes him a speedy recovery. Jeva Lange

2:13 p.m. ET
Courtesy image

"There are a number of things in life that can calm down just about anybody; burning wood fires, and hanging out in hot tubs are chief among them," says J.D. Digiovanni at HiConsumption.com.

The Soak outdoor wood-fired hot tub ($4,450), created by a Canadian design and fabrication firm, combines both pleasures. Made from marine-grade aluminum, stainless steel, and red cedar, this tub for two heats up via a wood fire or propane. The tub's Bauhaus-inspired modernist lines aren't what you expect from a wood-fired tub, but the look is "a great fit for almost any backyard." The Week Staff

2:00 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Verizon reached a deal Friday with two labor unions representing 39,000 employees, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez has announced. The four-year agreement is now being put into writing, and the employees are expected to go back to work next week.

The deal puts an end to six weeks of strikes over pay and pension cuts. Between 35,000 and 39,000 Verizon employees walked off their jobs in April, making it the largest strike in U.S. history.

"This tentative resolution is a testament to the power of collective bargaining. I commend the leadership of Verizon, CWA, and IBEW for their commitment to resolving these difficult issues in the spirit of constructive engagement. I expect that workers will be back on the job next week,” Perez said in a statement. Jeva Lange

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